For as long as I can remember, this experience meant something to me. I can even remember the first coffee shop I embraced as a home base: Milwaukee’s Fuel Cafe, which looked like it was from the ’90s well into the iPod era, and is still around, nearing its 30th anniversary, though it looks nothing like I remember it
. I didn’t even have a laptop at that point. I just went there, read the alt-weeklies, and realized that, hey, I might want to hang out in a place like this on the regular. It wasn’t long after I made that realization that I got an iBook. (I paid more than $50
There have been many coffee shops in my life—Elliot’s Fair Grounds
, a second-floor haunt in Norfolk, Virginia, deserves special mention here—and some had more of a personal touch than others. I’ve been treated like a stranger in the hippest local coffee shops around; I’ve been treated like a friend in the most corporate of chains. I’m a massive coffee nerd; my wife and I once took a trip around Europe trying to discover the best coffee shop we could find (Tim Wendelboe
in Oslo, in case you were wondering), and I have all the elements to make a good coffee inside the comfort of my own home. But for some reason, I will eschew all of that just to go to a random coffee shop, sit around, and write for a few hours.
So I guess what I’m saying here is that the fact that I can write this outside of a Starbucks on a Tuesday morning means something to me, especially after more than a year of not being able to do it. (It’s nice, as well, that I finally have a laptop
that will last me an entire work day without needing to be plugged in, tamping down on one of the practical frustrations facing a coffee-shop regular.)
I took this pandemic seriously, even if it meant missing out on things that I once took for granted. Even if it meant going a little stir-crazy.
But I think it’s because I knew if we were going to have a return to the normalcy of a coffee shop, we would have to put the time in.
I’m not going to take this for granted anymore.