I’m sitting in Tate Street Coffee House with a friend. We’re in my favorite spot, the table in the window at the front. There’s a step to get up to it. I kind of like being on display like this; it adds accountability for me. If one is going to be on display, one should probably be doing something productive. It would be a little shameful to just be on Facebook or Pinterest, at least for me. Though I’ll admit it looks more romantic to be typing in a document or writing in a notebook than it does to be working on a spreadsheet.
There’s a certain kind of energy to a coffee shop at night, especially when it’s one in an area that looks like or is a downtown of some kind. The neon lights from the “open” sign in the window and similar ones shining from the surrounding businesses add a different vibration than when those lights are much less visible in the light of day. There’s an increased energy. In the middle of the day, when sunlight is streaming through the windows, there’s almost a sleepiness to a place like this. It’s relaxed, full of people quietly working or friends gathered together. In a coffeeshop in the middle of the day on the edge of a college campus, one is either killing time in between classes or quickly grabbing coffee before something important. At night, there’s a sense of urgency underlying the relaxation, almost overwhelming it. Only those with something to accomplish put caffeine in their bodies this late, especially on a Sunday night.
I’ve ordered unsweetened iced green tea. (I’m turning into my mother.) But here whatever tea they use is fragrant, and so much so that it’s almost sweet on its own. I can’t drink hot drinks; they do not quench my thirst, only increase it. I wish I did enjoy hot drinks, because it would be much more pleasant to walk around with a hot coffee in my hand than an iced one in the dead of winter. Idiosyncrasies are fun, aren’t they? Mine sometimes annoy me, but I try to accept them.
Tate Street Coffee House is nearly empty. It’s understandable, at half-past nine on a Sunday night. Classes don’t begin until Tuesday, so there’s not much reason for my kind of crowd to be in here yet. Soon the place will be buzzing to various degrees at all times of day. But not tonight. Tonight it’s quiet.