Your Third Place

Caribou Coffee didn’t waste any time getting out of Chicagoland. I drove by my local coffeehouse last week, and the windows were already covered with brown butcher paper. I’m a little sad about this development. Sure, we still have Starbucks, but Caribou is a little less trendy and less expensive, which suits some of us quite well. One of my favorite columnists, Mary Schmich from the Chicago Tribune, wrote an article about Caribou Coffee’s retreat, and something she said about coffeehouses struck me. She describes coffeehouses as “a third place.” Your home is your first place and your work is your second place. (As a mostly stay-at-home mom, my first and second place seem to be the same–home.)

Schmich writes, “A third place is generally an unpretentious spot filled with regulars but open to anyone, where people of all kinds and social ranks mix, for little or no money.” People in my generation will imagine the coffeehouse of Friends, which was shown so often on that TV show that I think it was Rachel, Monica and Phoebe’s first place. However, I don’t think a coffeehouse qualifies as my third place. For one thing, I prefer to brew my own coffee at home. For another thing, when I go to Starbucks, Emmy wants me to buy her a cake pop for $1.25, which seems ridiculous even though I can’t make cake pops on my own. Trust me on this one.

Caribou Coffee
In October, Caribou offers a special blend for breast cancer awareness.

Where is my third place, then? Unpretentious and open to anyone? In the past, it certainly would have been the bar where my husband and I would grab a pizza and a beer every weekend.

Before I met my husband, my third place was the public library. I loved the hushed reading area in the stacks at my library. The building was old and creaky, and there were French doors leading out to a small courtyard. It was a great place to spend a Saturday afternoon. The library became my third place again after our first child was born. I was a new stay-at-home mom, and didn’t quite know what to do with myself. The second story of the large, suburban library was perfect to find a quiet nook to nurse my newborn and read. As Lily grew, so did our time at the library. We went weekly to check out books and attend story time. Now that Lily and Emmy are both in school, we don’t go to the library as often as we did back then. One day, school was canceled when the power went out. Our first stop was the library. We saw many of Lily and Emmy’s friends there that morning!

The third place where I spend the most time, however, is my church. You can find me there every weekend. I’ve been attending the same church since 1981.  I attended junior high at the parochial school.  My first overnight trip without my parents was with my seventh grade class. When I was sixteen, I went on my first date with a boy in Youth Group (not my husband, but we are still friends). I met my husband, got married and baptized my children at St. Andrews. Now I teach Sunday school and direct VBS at my church.

Yes, I think my church is my third place.

Where is your third place?

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9 Responses to Your Third Place

  1. I went to a Caribou Coffee once at the Mall of America. It was absolutely heavenly coffee. I think I got a caramel latte. As for cake pops, my daughter wants me to buy her three things at Starbucks and I want to buy myself a cake pop. It's bad! My third place is Target. At odd hours.
    My recent post Teacher's Pet.

  2. Hmm… I know this is probably going to sound bad but I'll have to say the casino. We live 15 miles from town and the casino is the one place nearby (1 mile away) where my friends and I meet up on weekends and there is always other entertainment besides gambling.
    My recent post Blue Jeans Blues

  3. Just in case you have any gift cards left or a craving for Caribou Coffee, there are still several locations open in the chicago area. They closed over 80 locations throughout the midwest in one day (very sudden).

  4. I had no idea Caribou is leaving! Although, I can't remember the last time I've been to Caribou. I guess home is both 1st and 2nd place for me, like you, and coffee shops are 2nd and 3rd places for me. We tend to seek out the independent coffee shops. They're no less crowded than Starbucks, but we like to support local businesses. We discovered a new one this past weekend that I really liked.
    My recent post My Week in Review: April 19 – 26, 2013

  5. Now that is a question and a half! I wouldn't know. There is no regular place I hang out apart from home and work. Although I might say the bus. And yes, I know I work as a busdriver, but the second place would probably be the staff room, so the third would be the bus itself. It's a bit home away from home. Especially in the past when I was still touring and used the same bus for weeks on end.
    My recent post Visitors

  6. Ginny's Blend….was that you? Sorry your favorite place is gone. These days I think home, bowling and Target. Someday's it's home, the show, home but most days it's home, home and home. Interesting question for sure!

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