Where, Oh Where Has My Coffee Shop Gone?


I’m a girl who needs a dive, a hang-out, a haunt, a place.  As long as I’ve been writing, I’ve done my best work tucked away in a funky cafe, scribbling longhand on tables that wobble, with Alternative music floating out of the corners.   Menus change, the number of piercings and tattoos on the wait-staff change, the music definitely changes, but there’s always a hidey-hole I can call my own somewhere nearby.

So to be without a home away from home is unthinkable, yet, here I am—dive-less.  I admit I’m picky about my spots.  They can’t be too expensive or too busy:  I need to be able to enjoy the faire without sacrificing heat, shoes or one of the cats, and I must be allowed to linger without the staff snorting steam about turning my table for the next customer.  The chairs have to be comfortable if I’m to plant my butt there for hours, so booths or padded seats are a must.  Conversation, traffic, innocuous music, and espresso machinery actually add to my experience, but loud and opinionated Bible study groups, toddlers in tantrum mode, football games on TV, and fights in the kitchen don’t (though the kitchen fights can be entertaining).  The food and drink need to be edible, if simple—no tepid coffee kept for hours in an airpot, no breakfast burritos with mayonnaise guacamole and frozen centers.

One by one, I’ve eliminated all the writing holes my hometown has to offer.  Bad food, too expensive, uncomfortable seats, too busy, weird hours, too loud, too prejudiced, bad service.  For awhile I tried to rotate through them, putting up with their deficiencies by preparing for them.  I brought my own pillows, found the most isolated tables, dug out my old pocket CD player and earphones, brought my own food or ate before I arrived, altered my schedule—anything to make the experience pleasant enough to get some writing done.  But all this just gave me cramps from bending so far over backwards.

A new coffee shop has been under construction for over a year a few blocks from my apartment.  Each day I drive by and watch it inch toward completion.  Could this be The One?  Might my Goldilocks snuggle into this dive and find it just right?  Maybe, but I can’t stop searching.  Right now, I’m driving a half hour to sit in a near-perfect Panera’s.  I worry about spending too much money on gas, but my writing is going so well that I’m determined to make it work.  After all, it’s the writing that’s important here, not the quality of the lattes or the freshness of the scones.  Well… as long as they have blueberry.

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12 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Ian Rees
    Nov 28, 2011 @ 10:12:29

    Reblogged this on This is my life and this is how it reads… and commented:
    I know the feeling. Sitting, tucked a way in a corner, in a coffee shop or bar full of people, I often have great ideas. I’m not sure whether it’s the stolen snippets of conversations or the general vibe of such places, but I thrive on the buzz.

    Reply

  2. Kathryn McCullough
    Nov 28, 2011 @ 11:45:28

    Great post, Sandy, and one I can relate to. Right now I’m writing at home, but often a place away from home works better–though it does have to be “just right.” I thought you had a place, but maybe it’s gone bad recently. I’m glad you have the Panera, but having to drive 30 minutes is a pain in the ass those cushioned seats just can’t soften. Hope the local coffee shop opens soon and ofters JUST WHAT YOU NEED!
    Hugs,
    Kathy

    Reply

  3. Sheryl Mae
    Nov 28, 2011 @ 13:10:08

    Too bad the library doesn’t offer a hidey hole you could squirrel away in.

    Reply

  4. docrob50
    Nov 28, 2011 @ 22:32:37

    while i am not a coffee shop kinda guy i sure hope you find a suitable haunt for you and your writing – which is variously a quiet pleasure, a hoot, makes a guy sit back and think, brings sadness to the heart and the eye, let’s me know you are still around still working still seeking to understand…….buy you a cup?

    Reply

  5. rachelmiller1511
    Nov 29, 2011 @ 10:36:23

    Just discovered your blog Sandy and very glad I am too. I also live in coffee shops and can completely relate to your criteria! As Christmas is just around the corner, my favourite spot has been increasingly busy, so I have been most peeved to find MY table already occupied ;-). It’s so funny how we can get precious about these things. Why is it that writing in a coffee shop is so much easier than writing at home!! Love your blog and hope you are well. xxx

    Reply

    • Sandy Sue
      Nov 29, 2011 @ 12:00:11

      I’ve had this conversation with other writers. Some couldn’t write a grocery list in the distraction of a public place, and some find too many distractions at home. I guess we all find our own perfect way to create. And then get really jealous and precious about it! Thanks for joining the song here, Rachel.

      Reply

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