Whiskey and The National

I used to live in a tiny house tucked behind a giant concrete wall. With slanted windows, gaps between the floor boards, and mosquito filled bamboo, everything was messy and perfect. I called it our home before he even saw it. I signed the lease knowing that if my heart said yes, so would his.

The first night we sat on the floor with our picnic of whiskey and hummus and we made plans. They were big. Full of each other and this new city we had decided to call home. He hung antique book covers from twine strung between the rafters. We drowned our doubt in cocktails we couldn’t afford and The National on repeat. We would shop for furniture at the Salvation Army because our wallets had stopped collecting money. We splurged on the mattress and built our world in that bed; the superman pillowcase always making itself known.

I spent my first weeks at the farm. Gathering dirt under my finger nails, I would sidestep fire ant hills and swat at the small grasshoppers that clung to my legs. The 106-degree weather was suffocating, like living inside a dryer that you couldn’t escape. I would come home smelling like sweat and sunscreen, donning tomato-red skin. Although unpaid, I was able to gather bags of produce and somehow that made life seem manageable. We weren’t sure how we’d pay rent, but hot damn, how those peppers sang.

On the first day of his new job he wore a tie. Still strangers to each other, I blushed at his broad shoulders and strong jawline. His shirt was powder blue. In that moment I felt like I had fallen into a grownup’s life. A life full of coffee on-the-go and quick kisses at the door before we headed to our respectable jobs. We fell into a routine, as people always do. He found himself in a job he hated, a town he wasn’t sure of, and a relationship neither of us knew how to navigate.

I fell in love with that city. With its warm nights and heavy air. All my jeans became cut offs as I navigated back streets on my bicycle. I fell in love with another boy, whose brain I couldn’t quite understand but I wanted to know. I outgrew the little house behind the wall, and selfishly forgot that there is always more than one heart involved. I grew roots and vines, entangled them in the humid air, and left behind things I should have remembered.

Tonight is for nostalgia. For putting on High Violet and remembering the meals we’d eat on the front porch, slapping at the mosquitos as they feasted on our ankles.

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One night we went into a bar where the drinks were pretentious and the ice cubes were made “in house”, as if that’s something to brag about. It was dark and crowded and we had dressed in our finest. We pretended we had money to burn. We bought each other drinks. We felt new.

Old Fashioned

  • 1 sugar cube
  • 3 dashes Bitters
  • club soda
  • 2 ounces whiskey (rye whiskey)
  • old-fashioned glass

Place the sugar cube in a glass. Wet it down with 2 or 3 dashes of bitters and a short splash of water or club soda. Crush the sugar with whatever you have that’ll get the job done. Rotate the glass so that the sugar grains and bitters give it a lining. Add a large ice cube. Pour in the rye (or bourbon). Drink slowly and enjoy.

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