How many of you that are parents remember realizing that your child was turning into a little person right before your eyes? Doesn’t that moment bring back the sweetest memories? It certainly does for me, but I also recall recognizing shortly thereafter that my kids were not going to hold onto these early memories in the same the way that I was. They would, in fact, be mine alone to keep. As parents, we become aware that there is a reason why our children don’t remember the things that we do. The parent/child bond is so strong in the beginning that if they did remember everything fully, it would be impossible for them to begin to establish any kind of separation from us. It’s normal, and it’s natural, but we still feel a tiny bit of loss as they begin to forget. Upon occasion, we catch a glimpse of the child we remember in a certain look or a particular expression, but as much as we may sometimes want to, there’s just no way to ever return to those early days.
My kids are grown now, and all living in homes of their own, but I’ve thought a lot this week about the house that we lived in together while they were growing up, and even about my own home as a child. There are many sweet memories, but so much has changed, and it made me think about the Wallace Stevens poem from Monday, and one line in particular: “It’s like the feeling of a man / come back to see a certain house.” We get the sense that he is returning to a house that was once very important to him, but in it he seems to find emptiness; whatever he was seeking is simply not there. Every year, over one million Americans return to their childhood homes, not to see their parents, but to visit the house they grew up in that is now occupied by someone else. Some people seem to do this for nostalgic reasons. They just want to walk around and reminisce and remember what it was like to live there. Others are going through a troubling period in their lives and are hoping to gain some insight as to what the next step on their path should be. And there is a third group who are returning to settle a score, to lay a matter to rest, or to find or offer forgiveness. Many psychologists feel that you can go back home again, so to speak, but I find myself wondering whether it’s really true.
I think what I take issue with the most is the terminology. I don’t believe that it is possible to return to our childhood home. Our childhood house, yes, but if we are seeking the home, then we will find only vacancy, just like the man in the poem. Our childhood home is as elusive as those earliest moments with our children. It exists only in our memories, and can never really be conjured up again, no matter how hard we try. It’s part of the spirit world, without substance, but made up instead of the feeling we had sleeping under the same roof as our parents, whispering secrets to our siblings, and sharing too many dinners together to count. It’s the “Happy Birthdays” that still echo in our minds, the TV shows or movies watched together, and that certain way the snow piled up against the back door. It’s the sound of our parents’ voices early in the morning, the summers off from school, and the place we’d run to at the end of our longest day. It was where we felt safe, it was where we found comfort, it was where we learned love. We can recognize it as our foundation, and we can remember it with great fondness, but if someone else lives there now, then it is their home, and they are building memories that belong to their present, not ours. We are charged with creating a new sense of home for our own children, and with letting those children go when it is time for them to do the same. It’s an endless process, this yielding to the present, but if we allow it to happen gracefully we will find that our fear of vacancy will be replaced with a sense of endless possibility.
For today’s drink, I decided to begin with an ingredient that you will recognize as a go-to for me whenever I write anything related to a sense of home. Did you guess?? It’s a coffee cocktail! There is something about coffee, and the act of sharing it with someone, that will always speak to me of home and love. I recently received a bottle of Mad March Hare Irish Poitín (put-cheen) as a generous gift in the mail, and it was the perfect spirit to use as a base for this drink. Distilled in Ireland, it’s a white whiskey along the lines of an American Moonshine that’s made from barley. It’s potent, yet incredibly smooth. I combined it with a cold brew nitro from Convergent Coffee, a walnut liqueur from Nux Alpina, and Tippleman’s barrel aged cola syrup, a birthday gift from Andrew Countryman with whom my daughter now happily shares a home. I added dashes of chicory pecan bitters from El Guapo, and Citrus Medica bitters from DRAM to finish things off. While the distinct coffee flavor of this cocktail felt traditional, it also had modern touches, and those were representative of the unavoidable truth that life is constantly evolving, just like our idea of home. Both have a past, a present, and a future, but love is the thing that will always bind those three together. Cheers everyone. Happy Friday!
A Certain House
2 oz Mad March Hare Irish Poitin
1 oz Convergent Coffee Co Nitro House brew
½ oz Nux Alpina Walnut Liqueur
½ oz Tippleman’s Barrel Aged Cola syrup
2 dashes El Guapo Chicory Pecan bitters
1 dash DRAM Citrus Medica bitters
Add all the ingredients to a shaker tin with ice and shake until very cold. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass and garnish with three coffee beans. Enjoy!