finding yourself on edison street

Posted: June 28, 2016 in Travel
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Salt Lake City – where people find themselves

Salt Lake City is not a place a person expects to find oneself, especially if that person is a male who makes a daily conscious decision not to wear starched white button down shirts with well-knotted neckties. Yet that is exactly what happened last Friday. In this bright city nestled in the Salt Lake Valley, a city where countless people of faith have experienced countless revelations, I too found myself. And I was wearing a red patterned shirt without a tie. Go figure.

“Finding yourself” has interesting connotations. Many folks love going on about finding themselves. Relatives, friends, colleagues, that mumbling guy on the corner. Doesn’t matter. We Americans seem to be frequently engaged in some form of this. We hope to discover that life-changing and alluring mystery deep within, like eternal peace or the legendary Blue Diamond. Admittedly, finding the Blue Diamond deep within would pose more pressing biological concerns, but that doesn’t stop us. We continually search. Maybe we are exceptionally introspective. Maybe we have too much time on our hands. Maybe we didn’t really need to drink that entire six-pack.

Celebrities appear particularly susceptible to embark on this grand quest, which is understandable. I imagine it can be very easy to lose sight of yourself when you are in the constant, direct and glaring sight of millions of strangers, strangers who gleefully make boundless assumptions about you without knowing anything other than your disappointing choice of a mate. Celebrities would rather live with their fan’s misconceptions than actually socialize with them. I find that completely reasonable. Seriously, just look any cluster of star-struck fans and note their fashion sense. Would you want to hang with them?

Finding yourself can be time-consuming and nuanced. It is primarily associated with some aspect of self-realization, the hit-and-miss journey to understand your piece in the grand puzzle, the hunt for answers to life’s most perplexing questions: “Why am I here?” “What purpose do I serve?” “Why do people put pineapple on pizza?” These questions are vexing and the provided answers are often unsatisfying.

But there is another meaning to “finding yourself,” one far less philosophical, one grounded in our physical being and sensory perceptions. From this perspective we each find ourselves every day. And we don’t even have to try. We find ourselves hearing nonsense spill from our mouths. We find ourselves touching the hot casserole dish without an oven mitt. We find ourselves smelling the questionable odors of the neighbor’s cooking. We find ourselves tasting the fumes from the nearby refinery. And, most bracingly, we find ourselves seeing all of our questionable glory in the mirror every morning through sleep-deprived eyes.

This was how I found myself in Salt Lake City last Friday. Physically, not philosophically. There were no grand revelations or amazing visions or emotional epiphanies. I was just a guy whose tired feet hit the soft carpet on a day which promised abundant sunshine and 98 degree heat. I did my best to avoid the mirror and my choice of a red patterned shirt caused no controversy. I set about the city, an urban explorer bathed in sunscreen.

As the evening fell I found myself again. This time with Caryn in Bar X, a prohibition era speakeasy a few blocks from Temple Square in downtown Salt Lake City. Alcohol laws in Utah are interesting. This is not surprising since almost 2/3 of Utahns are members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. As such they are forbidden to drink alcohol, coffee and tea, so you can imagine their influence in shaping state law. Nonetheless, here we were sitting in dim lighting at a scarred oak bar ordering drinks from a guy who I would have guessed was from any place on earth other than Utah, and that includes Cleveland.

I opted for something called “Edison Street,” a boozy mix of bourbon, Drambuie, absinthe risnse, with a grapefruit twist. This is not my kind of cocktail. I rarely drink any of the ingredients and I avoid grapefruit on general principle. Actually, you should too. It may be a fruit, but it looks and tastes nothing like a grape. Calling it a sour shotput would be far more accurate. Despite all this I ordered the Edison Street simply because I live near Thomas Edison’s old Menlo Park laboratory in New Jersey. I suppose that is as valid a reason as any.

The drink was served in an eight ounce tumbler. Four ounces were air. Maybe that was a holdover from prohibition days when smaller drinks afforded patrons the chance to quickly toss back whatever was in their glass while the cops burst through the front door. The romantic in me wants to believe that. Our plan was one quick drink then off into the night. But shockingly, Edison Street was a tasty concoction, some may even say yummy. As a guy, I will stick with tasty. One drink turned to two turned to three. The walk back to the hotel was warmly pleasant, no doubt in part to the twelve ounces of air infused into my tumblers. Soon afterward, as the sun slipped below the horizon, I found myself in Salt Lake City yet again, this time soundly asleep wearing a red patterned shirt.

  1. rangewriter says:

    What? You don’t like grapefruit? Now that you’ve learned the proper way to imbibe it, infused with tumblers full of air, I’ll bet you have a whole new perspective. SLC will do that to you. Believe it or not, SLC liquor laws have loosened up considerably in the past 40 years. Used to be, the only way you could drink liquor in an establishment was if you brought your own in with you in a plain brown bag.


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