I am actually sitting in a coffee shop, The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf on Coast Village Road, writing this blog. This is about my 110th blog that I've posted on The Coffee Shop Diary and it is the first blog that is actually being written in a coffee shop as opposed to being about a coffee shop or about wishing I had a coffee shop. I am just enjoying a cup of tea, chai tea to be exact, with it's exotic spices, a splash of cream and one stick of honey. Can't get much lovelier than that. You might be wondering why I am having tea when I am always talking up coffee. To be honest, I already had my coffee this morning. From Starbucks. Yes, Starbucks, so shoot me.
Today it is a bit overcast and that makes me happy. You can only have so many days of sunshine, of absolutely beautiful weather before you beg the skies to give you a little darkness, a scattering of clouds, a little chill so that you can stay inside and not feel consumed by guilt. When the weather is as beautiful for as often as it is here, you sometimes feel the pressure to be outdoors, to be more physically active. I on the other hand prefer to be more mentally active. I like to take my frequent walks but I don't take them too seriously. By that I mean that I don't wear walking shoes (I still wear my cowboy boots), I don't wear any kind of athletic clothing, no iPod in ear, no counter on my belt telling me the miles walked or the calories burned. It doesn't matter to me. Perhaps it should, but it doesn't.
As I sit here, the place is pretty crowded, and I can hear tidbits of the conversations at the nearby tables. Lots of women here, lots of foreign accents, words swarming around like "oil", "taxi drivers" and "real estate". It sounds like they all have a lot going on in their lives, like they might be among the chosen few. Well, of course they are, I am sitting in Montecito, California, the home to the likes of Michael and Kirk Douglas, Ty Warner, Drew Barrymore, Carol Burnett, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, and Gods right hand woman, Oprah Winfrey, just to name a few. I am here, so I am hopeful that I am among the chosen few as well. Needless to say, the conversation consists of subjects that do not include trips to Costco, hamburger noodle casserole and PTA meetings (not that there's anything wrong with that!), but I must confess it does make for more interesting eavesdropping.
I use to think that the people who brought their computers or sat for hours in the coffee shop were nothing more than posers. That for them the coffee shop had become a replacement for the bar scene (for those of us too old or uncomfortable to be hanging in the bars; Man, those were the good ole days!), but now that I have been coming to my new favorite WiFi spot, I find that there is comfort in the dull roar of conversation, the smell of the coffee, the energy of the people coming in and out and surprisingly, I get a lot done. It is wonderful, free office space just for the price of a cup of tea, or coffee, or decadent pastry. You really can't beat that now can you? You can even have your clients visit you at this office. I am seeing it all around me, many little business meetings going on.
The best part is that you are not alone and yet you can be completely alone. It is like being in your own home, in a different part of the house, you can hear the family talking, the clanging of pots and pans in the kitchen and it feels warm, safe and comfortable. Like fried chicken and mashed potatoes, even amid the foreign languages and the strangers faces, it feels like somewhere I know, from long ago, a connection, a sense of belonging.
After all these years of their existence, I am still always amazed by the success of the American coffee house. I have always considered the coffee house to be a place for me to get coffee, to meet friends, to dream of owning one, to spend an incredible amount of money on my daily habit. But now that it has also become my new office, along with all my other (un)poser office mates, I wonder if they will let me bring in a more comfortable chair?