This is something I wrote a few days ago, in a coffee shop. Reading it again, I thought it could be a suitable blog post.
I am sitting in a coffee shop and trying, as much as possible, to relax. I purposely didn't bring my laptop. I wanted to write for the sake of writing, and not be gulped into the computer screen, where nothing besides the screen matters. I wanted to be aware of my surroundings.
This coffee shop is really lovely. It's as close to a comfy living room as you can get, with a big leather sofa and a low table filled with magazines. I think I will be coming here again! This is a place Juliette would like. Although, since it's so small, you can't really have a private conversation. It's more of a solo coffee shop, where you will most likely end up conversing with the person behind the counter, or with another coffee-drinker.
That's actually what ended up happening when I was there. The lady at the counter asked us what music we wanted to listen to, and the young woman reading the newspaper (about my age) suggested a group - the ravonettes (?) - and said she was going to see them in concert. The conversation continued a bit, then we went back to our separate occupations : me writing, the other customer reading the newspaper, and the waitress knitting.
We often refer to cafés as "alone in the crowd" places where authors could write: Hemingway, Sartre, Beauvoir, Fitzgerald... But coffee shops are also places where so many friendships have blossomed. Juliette, the Amnesty Café in Dublin and I had one of those relationships, where the coffee shop becomes the special place for a friendship to grow. Is it still there, on Fleet Street (not the big London Fleet Street, the tiny Dublin one)? I hope so. Not much of a coffee shop, really. More like a gift shop, and a deli, and the front room of the Amnesty headquarters in Dublin. The waiters were always cute, and friendly. We ended up wondering if one of the recrutment criteria wasn't actually to be good-looking...and then we would think "pas plus mal"! Juliette and I would sit at one of those square tables for hours on end. We would often end up having more than one coffee, or eating something since their sandwiches were mouthwateringly delicious. We really were excellent customers, since we didn't have much else to do at the time, except going to a few classes at Trinity and occasionnally writing essays and preparing presentations. I didn't have a job (for a change) and Juliette did end up getting a job, but it was flexible. It didn't hinder our Amnesty sessions.
And this is how The Wise Bean, little coffee shop in Bethlehem, PA, is bringing me all the way back to Dublin. As I look at the walls of this place, I realize that all my music-conscious friends would be proud. There are posters of : Bob Dylan's Love and Theft album, The Velvet underground and Nico and Warhol's famous banana, The Ramones, Miles Davis and Johnny Cash. I am well surrounded! And, as a customer was buying his coffee, he asked the lady what she was reading these days... good music and book lovers! What else can one possibly want from a coffee shop? Good coffee, perhaps. It passes the test in that category, too.
Et comble du comble, as I sat down, Serge Gainsbourg's Bonny and Clide played as if saying with a wink, "this is for you, Frenchie" (in incredibly broken english, a glass of whisky in one hand, and a gauloise in the other).