I spend lots of time in coffee shops. I have about 4 that I visit regularly based on my mood or where I am that day and of course there are the stand by chains which suit their purpose when I am looking to be surrounded by a predictable crowd. The places I like best are unique shops with personalities of their own. Places I can go to hide, where no one knows me yet at the same time I can be surrounded by activity and life. Today I spent time in two of such places.
Early morning I went to my standard, most frequently visited coffee shop. They have the best coffee in town and outstanding pastries to boot but I go there because I know a few other people who also frequent the shop. We’ve become friends of sorts. Not the movie going or party inviting type of friends but rather the almost stranger type whom you greet with a genuine salutation but with whom you exchange merely surficial tidbits of information. People are not there to complain about their boyfriend’s or talk about their mother issue but rather to exchange pleasantries and discuss current events. It’s a fun place, always happy always light. A perfect way to start the day.
This afternoon however, I needed to get inspired and get some work done so I headed to one of my favorites but least visited places. I got there because they have great sandwiches and good coffee but more so because of the variety of people who visit and today was no exception. The place was packed and I got the last empty seat in the place which was on an old leather sofa next to a man who was taking copious notes on something he was reading on his laptop. He was mildly intriguing but more interesting than he was the table in front of me. There sat two men, one in his late thirties and the other perhaps in his late forties. I guessed they were academic types mostly because of their L.L. Bean outfits and messenger bags and most likely colleagues but friends as well. The younger of the two was soliciting relationship advice. He lives with his girlfriend somewhere in northern New Hampshire but comes to Boston to teach. He’d like to move to move to the city but the best she’ll do is the Berkshires. The older man offered his advice on the form of a story that I missed the point of but I wasn’t all that interested anyway.
I suppose it seems as if I was eavesdropping and I suppose technically I was but that’s why I go to coffee shops, to watch people living their lives. During my coffee shop time I’ve seen break ups and hook ups, first dates and last dates. I’ve seen friends laughing together and once crying together. It’s a reminder that life goes on every day in so many different ways. And to be fair I don’t just watch, I too live pieces of my life in coffee shops that perhaps people over hear or see, and it reminds them too that life happens everywhere.