Over at A Church for Starving Artists, the writer talks about looking for her Third Place. I guess this is a term coined by Ray Oldenburg. I haven’t read his books but I’d like to. The Third Place is the place where you spend most of your time outside of home and work or school.
I love the concept. It’s the place where everyone knows you you are, or at the very least recognizes your face. You know where things are kept, what’s on the menu, who’s around you. It’s your Third Place.
I guess I have two Third Places, and neither of them are churches, sadly. My first Third Place is camp. My second Third Place is the JCC. I am in that building at least four times a week. I recognize the people. They recognize me. They know my daughter by name. It’s comfortable there. Both places are comfortable–one from 14 years of going back, and one from just a year and a bit.
There have been different Third Places at different times in my life. Church has definitely been one (and in college, I practically moved into my church). Summer camp was absolutely one for many years. There were times when the theatre at the other high school in town was a Third Place (only one high school had a theatre so we shared). The YMCA was one, too, for a while in high school. There was also a playhouse in the backyard of a neighbor where all of us played when I was a kid. Before Selam came home, there was a *bucks where I’d write sermons all the time–and I don’t even drink coffee!
I would guess that my daughter has the same Third Places as me. She would probably also add this little diner on the way home from the JCC. We’ve been there way too often, and all the employees know her by name and order. She would eat there every day if I let her. The food really isn’t that good. But she considers it home.
I suspect that Third Places are what makes the difference in people’s lives. I suspect that having a place outside of home and work or school–those places where you have affection but also expectations–is the difference between desperately lonely and not so much. I think Third Places create community. But I haven’t read the book yet.
How about you? Where’s your Third Place?