8 April 2022

A photo of a bunch of study-clutter on a light-stained wooden café table. Clutter includes: a small disposable paper coffee cup with plastic lid, an open notebook with a list of four items scrawled under the heading “DONE,” a Faber-Castell fountain pen, and a pair of earbuds with tangled black wires. Sunlight is pouring across the table. In the background, a patio table and set of chairs are visible through the window.

I’ve written before about how one of the biggest adjustments of pandemic life was that I couldn’t work from coffee shops (or as I’ve always known them, “satellite offices”). I’m still not totally comfortable going out places, and I’m wary of going anywhere I might run into run into people who’ll want to have a conversation (I’m really not ready for the complexities of small talk and, who knows, I might never be again). But there’s a new-built coffee chain location in a mall parking lot about a 40 minute walk from my house, and because it’s in a mall parking lot almost all their business is drive-through, so the shop itself tends to be pretty vacant (at least on a weekday). I’ve gone there to work a couple times now, and the staff are cheerful, the music is decent, the wifi is steady, there’s ample seating, and nobody has tried to interact with me. A dream, honestly. I know I should be throwing my money at small local businesses and quirky independent locales, but the chitchat risk is just too high, and can’t afford that kind of energy expenditure right now.