Even when I walked into a town not knowing a soul there, Ireland was the least lonely place I’ve ever lived or traveled in. Conversation is a priority: I’ve seen two cars, heading opposite directions, block the road while the drivers chatted. I’ve taken two hours to walk a distance that should have taken ten minutes because my companion (or later I) ran into friends crossing bridges and strolling up the street. And I’ve over and over again walked into the local pub and found it to feel less like a bar and more like the village living room. A place where anyone might pull up a stool and find a warm conversation.
We really don’t have anything like them here in the U.S., but once in a while something with a little bit of the same feel comes along. In one Vermont village I know, it’s a bakery where groups of working class guys, hippie mamas and their little ones, and lifelong friends all visit to share hot bevvies and beautiful cupcakes. If you sit there an hour or two, you’ll notice friends running into each other, neighbors exchanging local news, and regulars whose orders are anticipated by the staff. In another town, the “local pub” is a kava lounge, where everyone sits at the bar during the day, and sometimes people hang out for hours there without making a purchase.
Hunt around to see if you can find your “local pub.” What you’re looking for is a place where friends run into each other without planning it ahead of time, and where strangers might share a few words or a whole conversation. A place that feels like a public living room or a commons. If you can find such a place, share the knowledge with friends, and visit there often.
- WHAT: Find the “local pub”…which might actually be a bakery, kava lounge, tea house, bookshop, library, cafe, creperie….
- METHOD: Face to face.
- HOW: Explore local eateries, businesses, and venues.
- COST: The cost of a beverage or meal, depending on the venue.
- COMMITMENT: Dedicated…this can take some searching, and is a long-term investment.
- ADDED BENEFITS: Whatever goodies the eatery serves up.