Every morning for the last several years I have jumped out of bed, raced into some clothes, and driven on automatic pilot over to my favorite café for breakfast. “Breakfast” = coffee, some sort of protein, and a whole wheat bagel or equivalent. “Coffee” = a latte. The food plan I follow asks me to finish breakfast within an hour of getting up, which is why I do this so quickly.
Long ago on television there was a show called “Cheers,” describing the antics of some regular customers at a bar in Boston. If you’re older than dirt you may remember this. The show pointed out the need we all have for…
…a “third place:” somewhere not home and not work where we feel as though we can go and be ourselves.
This is my third place. The staff knows what I usually order and I know all their names. The owner, Sandy, has become a friend — one of those first-to-visit-you-in-the-hospital type friends, if she wasn’t the one to drive you there herself. Other regulars and I have formed loose social groups that are meaningful even though we don’t see each other anywhere else. On the rare occasions I don’t show up by 10 in the morning — usually I’m there by 7:30 — someone phones to see if I’m alright.
I have met new coaching clients, dispensed poetry advice, written about 75 radio essays for KVMR, and teased my siblings in this café. When my favorite ex-boyfriend died, this is where his sister found me to give me the sad news.
I hold classes here sometimes on Sundays, when they’re officially closed. The space next door is rented out to a book store, which makes it the perfect place to teach writing.
Do you have a third place? Or if not now, have you ever had one?
The owner’s mother was once best friends with “the Martha Stewart of Canada,” and the café’s proprietary quiche recipe has been handed down from that relationship. It’s the best quiche “in seven western states,” as my dad used to say, and if you know where that phrase comes from please tell me! I can’t find it in the googlesphere.
Where we spend our time is significant, both for our personal lives and for our communities. I’m essentially a sociable introvert, happy coaching people one-on-one or working alone at my desk. But if I don’t get out into the world now and then, I go batty. Even though sometimes I look like Lucy from Peanuts at my counter stool, and should have a sign like hers saying “Life Coaching: 5 cents, please,” it’s really my own mental health I’m there for.