It’s incredible, really. One minute, you’re standing in this new city with nothing but your suitcase, and then you look around and suddenly, you realize you’re surrounded by family.
As the 2013 summer season begins to kick off, I can’t believe that this is my third summer working at Townhouse Lounge. Despite all that’s changed since 2011, there are shifts at Townhouse that hurtle me at lightning speed to two years ago, when my entire world felt pretty shattered, yet I had a job, thanks to the kindness of Pete who took my resume that one day and passed it onto the owners who were willing to take a chance on an unknown (35-year-old) kid (TM Travis Birkenstock (minus the 35-year-old part)).
Back then I was struck, though not surprised by, the loving atmosphere amongst the staff at Townhouse. I felt like an outsider, because I usually do anyway, and this time, I was a native New Yorker living in the Springs, entering the world of people who were not just a staff, but a family. It was beautiful, but intimidating, and sometimes lonely-making. My own family (that was not my immediate family) was mostly back East, and my friends-family were too. Witnessing the familial vibe at Townhouse made me miss what I’d left behind, though I was happy for the people who’d found it together in Manitou.
Still as time went on that summer two years ago, I got to know some people. Like aforementioned Pete, then a few others, and then Chad the bartender, who bought the place along with three others two months after I started working there. I loved the former owners, and loved the new (and current) owners. A few things changed, but the feeling of family did not.
I got laid off after the Emma Crawford Coffin Races, which I was expecting. The only thing I did not expect was to be kept so long into the year, as I was told when I was hired that it was just for the summer.
I kept going to Townhouse throughout that winter for karaoke, and after Josh moved to Manitou in early ’12, we sometimes walked down just to get nachos and other food that I missed during the downtime. We went for Superbowl; though neither of us could give a lick about football, the Superbowl atmosphere at Townhouse was undeniable and irresistible. As we sat at a patio table brought in from outside at Chad’s urging, one of the tables I’d wiped down countless times in preceding months, I was so proud to have worked at this place, to know I was going to work there again in the Spring, and to share it with Josh. I was proud to be a part of this family, even if I did feel like the second cousin by marriage at the reunion that most know by face more than name.
After that winter off from ’11-‘12, I was honored that they kept me during the winter from ’12-’13. That was when I started to give a lick about football, because Townhouse football Sundays are incomparable and infectious (in the good way).
Before that, I made friends with a wonderful couple who had a beautiful baby girl. Their baby shower for her was on the patio deck. People from the whole town came to support and celebrate.
Halloween night was finished out at Townhouse, where we had a “Buffy” singalong via the jukebox, and where else do you get to do that?
In bits and pieces, the people at Townhouse, both staff and regulars, became part of my life, and in turn, I felt like a part of theirs.
The 2013 summer season has just barely begun, yet already this year has sealed the deal for me, and made it official: I have family here. Sometimes we leave the “original set,” and there are dance recitals, cat-sitting, and apartment-moving involved. Most of the time, and usually after those off-set occasions occur, we end up back at Townhouse. Because Cheers has got nothing on that place.
Sunday-night dance parties are now a thing! Even though some Sundays like last night, we dance less, and discuss philosophy more. And “any given Sunday” really extends to any given day that ends with “y,” because no matter what day it is or what time it is, so long as Townhouse is open, if you go to Manitou, even if you are flying solo, you can know there is a place you can go to, where even if everybody doesn’t know your name, they will by the time you leave. Even if you leave to go back to Texas, or St. Louis, or Philly. Et al.
I feel so honored and so blessed to be a part of that.
Thank you, Townhouse, and everyone who is part of it. You have given me a home away from home, and no matter which way the road bends next, family is forever, and you are now part of mine ❤
PR: If you visit Manitou Springs, don’t miss out on visiting this bar that really IMO is the heart of the town!
PS: Now I have to go get ready for work!