Our town could be described as a bedroom community. At least I think it still falls under that description. I’m not sure if the fact that we have a Target and Kohl’s disqualifies us. Albertson’s grocery store, the Do It Center and Big Lots have all had to close. And that wasn’t in the 2009 economy; we’ve lost those stores in the past year. And even though our population is over 34,000, (small by southern California standards), our restaurant options are extremely limited and it does appear that the sidewalks have been rolled up by 8:00o’clock every night.
This morning I met a friend at a little cafe called “Disgustingly Delicious”. Only a few other customers came in during the hour we were there and I find myself concerned for the owner and his employees. I don’t know them but they clearly help fill a desperate need for ambiance in our suburb. Their food and coffee are really good too. And my concern is magnified because they are in the same location of a former cafe called “Kate’s”. Will they have the same fate as Kate’s?
I’ve read numerous books and watched a number of television shows that take place in quaint villages and all of them have homey little hangouts for their characters. Stars Hollow on “Gilmore Girls” boasted at least 3 such meeting places serving coffee and camaraderie. (Obviously none rivaled “Luke’s”). Our neighborhoods don’t resemble the charm of Stars Hollow in the least. However, our town does have its own cast of caring characters.
We need a place for our own characters to stay in touch before, during and after the PTA/ AYSO/Little League/Booster years. Some of our characters never had children attending our schools in the first place: think Babette and Morey – where will we see their likeness?!
I use to believe suburbs were places to build a sense of community whereas cities were lonely places to live. As I get older I realize cities have their various communities where it’s easier to feel a sense of belonging because everything is in walking distance and driving is more of a nuisance. Suburbs have the open the garage door, enter, close the garage door, lifestyle that isolates us from one another.
So back to my concern over “Disgustingly Delicious”: this charming café is in a corner of a strip mall, out of sight from the cars driving down the busiest street in town. There are a number of reasons “Gilmore Girls” was such a hit. For many of us, it is that we would like that sense of belonging that takes no more effort than walking out your front door, turning right off your street and walking by charming shops, a dance studio with its barn doors wide open and children inside dressed as turnips practicing their arabesque, as we wave at neighbors sitting by the town center gazebo.
Okay, I’m not solely concerned for the owner of my local café and his employees. I’m concerned for my chance at a little Gilmore Girls we-take-care-of-our-own citizenry. (Wait, I might be mixing that up with the Mitford book series.)
I do get more than a taste of community as a member of my church. My church is a cast of caring characters. But there’s not a quaint set where I can walk out my door, turn right and enter into their company on any given day. To get that sense of community and avoid isolation I have to schedule appointments. Sigh. Oh well, I guess Kirk would be far less humorous and far more alarming in person on a daily basis.