I moved this year. And ever since I moved from the house I had been in for 7 years, I have been feeling a little lost. I didn’t realize why until I received last night’s prompt, asking us to talk about our Third Place. I don’t have one right now.
They say that each person has three places (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Third_place): The first is your home, the second is your work, and the third is your place in the community that you go to foster a more creative and connected life.
There are eight characteristics that define a Third Place
- Neutral Ground
- Conversation is Main Activity
- Accessibility and Accommodation
- The Regulars
- A Low Profile
- The Mood is Playful
- A Home Away From Home
All of my adult life, I have been a regular somewhere – or more specifically at some bar. My first year at NYU, it was Poppolinis, an italian restaurant around the corner from my dorm, run by the mafia, where they didn’t ask to see your ID, as long as you behaved yourself and kept ordering more wine. I was such a regular there, I went to the bartender’s wedding (She’s the one in the picture).
Then we went Irish and Shades of Green was our preferred haunt. The bartenders name was Pat and he stocked awesome party mix, and was like a grandfather to me. Then it was the St. Marks Ale House. I knew the staff so well, I took over the place for my 21st birthday. Yes, I did THAT much drinking before I was 21. Please know, I was never a drunk and I managed to graduate with honors.
After I graduated, I floated around a bit and went where my older friends were regulars. I finally settled on the Beauty Bar because they had a great country DJ on Tuesday nights who would always play Convoy if you requested it. And the bartender made my martinis so full I couldn’t pick them up without sipping them first. That was where we went the night after September 11th because we knew who would be there and that they would be able to comfort us and be comforted.
It was easy to find a third-place in New York. No one’s living space is very big or nice, so the Third-Place is critical to sanity. And because the bartenders also know what a buyback is and make sure their regulars feel appreciated. That is not the case in Seattle. I bet most Seattle drinkers have never even heard of it. I loved the way it’s described in this piece in the New York Times, “So a buyback didn’t just mean free beer — a great concept on its own. It meant acceptance. It meant I was on one of the rings of the inner circle.”
Not one bartender has ever bought me a drink in Seattle. Not one. Perhaps that’s why I have never really felt at home anywhere. I have had friends who have worked behind the bar and I made sure to swing by. I have been to places often enough that the bartender recognizes me and smiles. And I have run into friends at bars that we both lived close to. And my thirsty coworkers and I have had favorite haunts. But never, have I been a true regular at a bar in Seattle. The closest place that has the right idea is Locol. And they almost have all the criteria covered (except buy-backs) and I was really starting to feel at home there. But unfortunately it’s no longer in walking distance, so it’s out.
So maybe it’s time to find something other than a bar, especially since I have a kid now. But what are my other options? It can’t be a gym or yoga, because talking is supposed to be the main activity and food or drink play a part. Coffee shops are ok, and I used to feel a little welcome at C&P, but the regulars are usually working, not talking. Can’t be church because the mood isn’t usually playful. Art nights (knitting, painting etc) are pretty cool, but a Third place kind of needs to be open more often, so you can turn to it when you need their support. I need a Cheers, where everybody knows my name.
I could use some help here. Any suggestions? Has our virtual Third-Place (Facebook) completely replaced all physical ones?
Prompt #12 (Nov 13) Dina Goldstein is most known for her series ‘Fallen Princesses,’ which juxtaposes what happens after “happily ever after” with real life issues she saw were affecting women around her. Goldstein is back at it again with her latest series “Dollhouse.” Choose one photo from her series and let yourself respond to it or tell us the story that’s happening in that photo. Links: http://dinagoldstein.com/fallen-princesses/ and http://dinagoldstein.com/dollhouse/