I still remember the first time I stepped into a coffeehouse. I was just getting a drink to go, so the first thing I noticed was the line. Not quite to the door. It was still long enough to make my spirits droop. In the space of a heartbeat they were lifted again, as the scent of coffee and pastries filled my nose, and lilting music played with my ears, welcoming and relaxing me.
I am an introvert. When I was in high school I would completely skip days if I was late enough to miss the first bell. I just couldn’t stand the thought of opening that door and having every face turn and look at me. All those eyes. My own personal horror movie.
Today I’m much better. A recovering introvert, you could say. I still get that moment of apprehension before stepping through a door sometimes, but I can almost always distract my nerves and get it done.
That first coffee shop was like that. Big nerves. I started busying my mind with the closest display, but soon realized the eyes were ignoring me. I had received a couple glances but for the most part everyone was looking elsewhere.
I began to really relax. And then I saw the menu. Oh, what a tangled web we weave when first we order a coffee. I was never a big coffee drinker. Of course until this moment I didn’t know coffee came in flavors like… Mocha. And was that… whipped cream!? Wait, why would I want a shot? This isn’t a doctor’s office.
Stepping up to the counter I could only blurt at the smiling Barista, “I’ve never been here before.” The rest is a blur but I remember walking out with a frosty cold, cup of chocolaty, caffeinated goodness. I was hooked.
I became a natural. One of those patrons who breezes In the door without even noticing if anyone looks up, has a usual drink and rattles it off like a pro: “Grande java chip Frappe, add a shot, with whip. Thank you.”
These days I do have one concern when I step through the door: is there an empty seat? And because I’m a writer: is there a seat I would want? What makes a seat desirable? Back to a wall, definitely. In the corner, preferably. And please, for the love of all caffeine, let there be an outlet within reach.
These are my demands, and be assured my introvert self will force me to turn right back around and out the door if they can’t be met. She’s made me before. After all, there’s another one just down the street.
Usually my timing is good and a spot is awaiting me. My random, occasional, OCD kicks in and I happily busy myself setting everything into its proper place. Laptop, power cord, mouse and mousepad, headphones, phone on vibrate, glasses off. Let’s not forget, my new favorite drink: Grande unsweetened green tea, light ice. Much less fancy, but I’m watching my sugar intake now.
I sit down, ready to go… this is when the magic really happens. It’s the same kind of time-shift I get reading a really good book. Only instead of just my imagination being busy, my fingers fly across the keyboard. It’s a weird kind of busy stillness a modern keyboard creates. As I dive into my writing the whole world melts away. Time doesn’t pass for me until I stop to look up, check my clock, and realize it’s been hours.
I’ve tried doing the same thing at home. I’ve gotten my tea and blueberry scone, made sure everyone understood I was busy and they should leave me alone. Unfortunately the four-legged members of my household don’t listen so well. And even when they do, there’s just something about the atmosphere at the coffeehouse that is conducive to creativity.