A few days ago I read a beautiful article in The Guardian by Kate Wills about ‘regulars‘, namely those people who love to come back to the same restaurant or cafe regularly, and I realised that in my last post about the restaurant Le Canal, I failed to fully explain to you and to myself why that place makes me so happy. Now I know, I am also a regular (although I would be more regular with some extra money).
It is clear in The Guardian‘s article: not all regulars are regularly enjoying carefully chosen public spaces for the same reason. A Syrian guy, Ahmad Al-Masri, for example, found a piece of Damascus, in a restaurant in London. To go there three times a week it is “like being back home” – he said. The smells, the dialect, the faces bring him back to a home where he is not likely to come back to. Or at least not any time soon.
On the contrary, Samantha Earl, a full time mother, goes for a daily therapeutic coffee to a cafe in Essex because she does not want to be one of those mums who stay at home all day. A cafe can be ‘the chosen place’ for more that one regular and for Samantha, this cafe makes her feel “part of [that] community” and in contact with the outside world.
Eva Braithwaite, a restaurant manager of 23 years old, has a glass of Merlot and a cheeseboard at least three times a week in a restaurant in Leeds because she believes that “there’s a big difference between loneliness and solitude” and in this place she had found that “it doesn’t feel inappropriate to be alone”.
But sometimes, to be among strangers might be frightening, especially when you have had history of not being accepted. Jay Warn, a 23 years old guy, and his boyfriend have found a place that makes them feel “welcome and safe” and they’ll go even if takes 25 minutes driving to get there.
As you can read, when it comes to regulars, food and drinks seems to be minimally involved in the choice of a place to go to. The atmosphere, the people who work there, the other customers are far more important. However, in of all the different reasons, everything boils down to the need that everyone seems to have, the need of a happy routine and of a comfort zone. Do you agree?
I am a regular because wherever I go, I consciously or unconsciously try to find a place where I feel like I belong. I know it might seem paradoxical, loving to change country every time and feeling the need of finding a routine and a place to be truly comfortable with who I am. But aren’t we all a bit self-contradictory? (Please don’t tell me I’m alone). Perhaps I simply love comfort zones as well as uncomfortable ones. Or maybe I feel the urge of chances because the risk that a comfort zone becoming a gilded cage is always around the corner. Or even, I believe in saving a few comfort zones in order not to loose myself. Ultimately, would it make any sense to push myself out of a comfort zone if I wouldn’t have one? Le Canal is my comfort zone and part of my happy routine…as long as it doesn’t hold me back.
The featured image is the famous painting Nighthawks (1942) by Edward Hopper. In my next post you’ll find my list of ‘regulars’ in paintings. I hope you can enjoy it.