The consideration of where we regularly spend our time soon points to home and the workplace or classroom. Or, for retirees like me, the home.

Add to that the elements of being surrounded by familiar faces and feeling comfortable, the focus sharpens. For many folks, the home’s an empty place and the only regular connection with others comes via the screen or radio.

Not my ideal, not by a long shot. And I’m essentially an introvert.

I’m not the first to think about this. In fact, it’s the subject of a famous essay and resulting discussion all looking at the Third Place, an alternative regular spot we share in public.

Maybe it’s  a cornerstone for civilization. My preference would be for places I don’t have to drive to, which pretty much rules out the suburbs. But I’ve seen some in rural areas that would fit.

Ideally, it’s a place to strike up random conversations. Quite possibly, a place to avoid loneliness. Or, as the line in the Cheers TV sitcom theme song proclaimed, “Where people know your name.”

The corner restaurant in my novel Promise would fit the definition, as would some churches that emphasize community. Libraries, sunny parks or public benches, fraternal lodges, a bar or diner might also fit. Maybe even a bus stop or commuter rail station. The gym or swimming pool? Choir practice or folk dance?

What would you add to the conversation? Just where do we regularly come together?



  1. I’m so glad you said libraries. There was also a unique little spot in State College years ago, a coffee shop/bookstore/college and local hangout. I think you are right here, and it’s a good explanation of why people become “regulars,” maybe not all of them, and even the ones who don’t want to engage in conversation, are probably still comforted by the convenient and familiar.

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