Finding Yourself In A Crowded Cafe

There is an idyllic chaos that thrives in a cafe. 

It is boisterous, and unstoppable, and flawed, and completely perfect.

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I could work in a library, I muse. I could be surrounded by likeminded souls, with noses tucked in between ink-bled books and enveloped in a sort of mystical literary magic. I could fold myself into the corners of characters, sworn into secrecy by the unspoken rule of silence, finding my place amid predictable beginnings and mid-chapter crescendos. 

But, in a coffee shop, I am in awe of the un-expectations.

I am surprised by the unashamed discussions of private matters, spoken at a volume that I needn't strain to grasp. A perpetual wallflower in the nooks of new relationships and political ideologies, I sit, learning. 

Amid the clatter of colorful mugs, I attempt to concentrate — but my focus remains unfounded. The warm smell of chai spices and cinnamon muffins weaves its way between conversations. At a distant table, a loose bolt sounds off, metallic, by way of a juggling foot.

The door opens, a small bell signaling entry, and whispers of words escape beneath the jamb.

Soft music hums below the surface of the room, seeping into the floor tiles and filling the pauses in the space. It acts as a semicolon, placating the cafe while all collectively reclaim their thoughts. Lilts of acoustic guitar stick to the lip of my mug, beading beats alongside my tea.

Between quality stickers and community posters, the setting sunlight sifts through the glass entryway. It reflects geometric patterns onto the pages of my journal. Young children, parents with strollers, elderly couples holding hands — they all pass by the cafe, barely there, present and then vanished. They all unknowingly are a moment in my life, a small but necessary dash in my timeline. I am also a dash in theirs.

I could work in a library, I muse. Perhaps I'd write more words, or read more volumes. But at what cost?

I am drawn by the bright eclecticism of a cafe, the hustle and the bustle converging with the sit and the stay. Tiny interactions swell to the ceilings; they distract me, and inspire me. I smile at the babies, and I glance at headlines as newspapers shift and sway. A new face draws my attention; my voice is caught by a unique riff. I learn less of my book, but I learn more of life.

In a cafe, I am restless, and I am at peace.