Thursday, August 4, 2016

Common Market

Almost three years ago, Joel and I chose to move into the coolest neighborhood in Charlotte. For us, there was absolutely no doubt that this would be the greatest place in town because it was two blocks from our most beloved hangout- Common Market (South End). 

Common Market was more than a deli, a bottle shop, a coffee stop, or a good place to get free wifi. It was pure magic. It was in an old brick building that had a whimsical courtyard out back. This courtyard was surrounded by walls that seemed to have the power to blot out the terrors of the world beyond them leaving you nestled in a world of creativity, community and good drinks. 

Everything was welcome at Common Market. Anything from locally made baked goods to plastic tentacle fingers could be found here. You could drink a six-pack, a bottle of wine, get local beers on draft, or just sip a kombucha. Anyone could find something to enjoy in good company. 

And good company was always present! Common Market was always full of people- ALL kinds of people. All ages, races, socio-economic backgrounds, sexual orientations, the gamete were found shoulder to shoulder, sharing drinks, starting conversations and jamming to sweet tunes. Everyone was welcome and we felt it. 

All kinds of music could be heard here too. Most nights of the week there would be live music or in-house DJs.

The folks who worked at Common Market worked really long hours and you know what, they wouldn't even leave when their shifts ended. These folks loved it so much that they would come in on their days off or hangout on their breaks. For me, this speaks volumes if nothing else does. 

Common Market South End has been the only place I have ever patronized that truly offered common ground to everyone. My sister joked that "it is an extroverts dream" because you are forced to meet new people every time you go. If you want to sit down, you have to at least ask for the empty chair at someone else's table. However, the truth is, you are probably going to be invited to that table and before you know it, you will have a half dozen new friends to look forward to seeing again. 

This spot was special. It wasn't just the strange local artwork that hung precariously off of anything that stood still. It wasn't just the apple tree that grew in the courtyard and offered us fresh fruit each fall. It wasn't the delicious $1 coffee with risque names, or incredible beer selection. It was the people this place attracted. 

I felt welcome there all the time. I could show up in my Pajamas or come dressed to the nines. I enjoyed hanging out there when I was pregnant and later with a stroller and baby in tow. I shared a glass of wine with my 92 year old grandmother in the same place where I played 5's with a bunch of friends from college. On closing day we passed Noelle to total strangers who kissed and cooed over her like her own grandparents. Where else can you have this besides your own living room?

There is just nothing like it that I have found on any of my travels. It was a very special place and now it is closed. The public have been told that they will be seeking a new location since the entire block was bought out by a developer who wants to turn our community gathering place into another apartment building. So we have hopes CM will open in our neighborhood again. But the truth is, it will not be the same. The Common Market as we knew and loved is gone. 

Someone once told me to not get bogged down with the emotions attached to the past but start sending good feelings to the future. He urged me to be excited for the NEW Common Market. I know we can fall in love again. I know that this new location could be even cooler, even more welcoming, and hold true to all that we valued about our old community center. 

I have hope that the future Common Market will offer all the magic and delight it brought to our lives. But for now, I say, "Thank you." Thank you for all the great times. The opportunities to meet amazing, new people. Thank you for the gift of being in a place where you can look around and believe that America is good and people do love one another equally. Thank you for many great nights, big hugs, life-giving cups of coffee, and for damn, good rice-crispy treats. And most of all, thank you for taking me as I am every 
single time. 

Oh, Common Market, I will miss thee, truly.  

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