Coffee Shops and the Inner Child

There are days when I cannot bear to write at home. Part of the problem is that I am, during the day, a telecommuter. My home is my office is my writing studio is my home. When I sit down to write, I have usually just finished a day of work. I’m still chewing the last bite of dinner and my inner dialog is going something like this:

Inner Child: “I’m tired. Nobody cares if we write every day. They won’t know anyway. Why not take a day off and watch some television or read that new story from Josh Lanyon?”

Adult: “You’re always tired after work. Once that pizza kicks in, we’ll be fine.”

Inner Child: “I don’t even know what’s supposed to happen next.”

Adult: “That’s never stopped us before.”

Inner Child: “I want something sweet. Put something in our mouth.”

Adult: “Oh, for God’s sake!”

Inner Child: “I’ve heard there are other people in the world. Let’s go find them. Maybe they’ll worship us.”

This is the point at which I stuff my computer into a pack and walk to one of the local coffee shops. The change of location relieves my stir-craziness. An herbal tea or non-fat latte pacifies the inner cookie monster. People watching stimulates my imagination. I can write. The terror of the blank page passes.

There used to be six coffee shops within walking distance of my home: two from a national chain, two from regional chains, one from a Philadelphia chain, and one independent. All but one offered free internet access. The independent, Crossroads, is a lovely converted former shoe store with a two-story atrium, skylights, a narrow mezzanine, and dark hardwood shelving. I have written many thousands of words there. Unfortunately, two of the local shops have closed in the past few months.

Times are hard. The remaining shops are filled with people working on their computers like me, a cup at hand to show they’ve paid their rent. I am careful to purchase something every few hours. I resent the people who stay all day after purchasing a single tall coffee. They’re the same ones who pull out bananas and yogurt they haven’t purchased from the shop at lunch time. (I’ve never actually seen anyone thrown out for this inconsiderate behavior, but I’d not blame the business owner who did.) I know that money is an issue for many of the students and job-seekers I see in the coffee shops, but coffee shops are businesses. They have leases and employees to pay. That free internet service isn’t free. I worry that more shops will close if too many people take unfair advantage.

Pardon me, I have to get another latte. I’m not ready to go home yet.


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