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Starbucks – my island of sanity

standard January 5, 2010 8 responses

Most people run into Starbucks to grab a cup of something that will help them kick start their day or pick up their afternoon. They head straight for the counter, glancing at the pastries hiding behind their glass bubble, order their usual, move to the end of the bar, collect their cup, and rush out.

Not me. I walk in and instantly look for a table. I sit down, set up shop, and wait for the line to thin so I can get my cup of drip coffee – grande, half caf/half decaf. My coffee moment isn’t about the buzz. In fact, it’s not even about the coffee. That’s just a perk. I go to Starbucks because it’s my haven, the place where time stops, and the world stops spinning long enough for me to catch my breath.

When I’m there, in my corner table, with my laptop, my coffee, my to-do notebook, I feel calm, in control. I’m working towards my goals, I’m working for me. I don’t feel pulled in twenty directions, I don’t feel like I’m scrambling to finish something so I can get on to the next ten tasks.

It’s my little island of sanity. The place I can surface, breathe, look around, replenish myself before gulping some air and diving deep again. I’m there for a chunk of uninterrupted time. I can’t really talk on the phone and there are no children vying for my attention. I can crack open my to do notebook and work my way down the list. In an hour I can feel like I’ve accomplished a ton, and I feel in control again.

Outside the glass doors the demands and needs of others swirl like a vortex threatening to catch me up and toss me around. I rush to work, dash to pick up the kids, hurry to the store, the gas station, home, always trying to stay three moves ahead while at the same time keeping everything from escaping my brain. My to do list lives in my head until I can find a moment to jot it down. I live in fear of forgetting something crucial.

The irony is that the constant noise and commotion inside Starbucks is what keeps me focused. Maybe it’s a reminder of hours spent in school libraries, though my mother would be the first to tell you that I never did much work in those libraries. Or many it’s just comforting being surrounded by so many people enjoying their own brand of comfort. It’s a happy place. Most people come to hang out with friends or work on exciting projects. It’s a positive space and it feels good to be immersed in that energy.

Then, when the clock ticks and it’s time to leave, I gather my things, slide my computer into it’s case, pack up my to do list, my favorite pen, my glasses, and slip past people pushing to get in for their afternoon caffeine fix. And I smile when I get into the car because the smell of roasted coffee beans clings to my shirt and my hair, allowing me one last hit of zen as I turn to face the rest of the day.

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8 responses

  • I fell EXACTLY the same way! Gosh, I used to spent hours at Starbucks before husband and baby. Loved getting my work done there or just reading.

    Thanks for reminding me of simpler times… 🙂

    Dagmar
    Dagmar’s momsense
    http://DagmarBleasdale.com

  • Your description is perfect! My getaway is slipping out to lunch at an odd time at Johnny Rocket’s, when I can get an empty booth, eat in peace, and type a new post. I don’t get the escape often, but it’s soooo nice.

  • This is intriguing to me. I don’t drink coffee, and right now have no “extra” cash to even go out for diet coke. Are you still finding time to make these visits even though you’re working full time?

    I think I like your blog because your life to soooo different from mine!

  • I know what you mean, in a way. I get my best reading time in when I can spend a “Starbucks hour” alone there on the weekends, and I feel a bit out-of-sorts when I miss that.

  • I feel exactly the same way. If you ever need a work buddy, let me know and I’ll meet you at a Starbucks. 🙂

  • I grab the Grande Chai Latte, skim milk, 2 extra shots of chai and a little dab of whip cream! Yum!

    I enjoy Starbucks not because of the noise (I actually bring earplugs) but because I feel an energy to get things done there.

    I have always loved writing in Coffee shops. Something about the ambiance that inspires us artistic folks to do our thing!

  • Thanks for this beautifully written glimpse into your day. I crave my Starbucks time too, but too often it is just 20 minutes. One of my new year’s resolutions is definitely to be at Starbucks more to get that sanity back with my notebook in front of me.

    But I have encountered some bad Starbucks. bad music. bad vibe. They’re not all the same and it’s important to find the right one that works for you.

  • *Sigh*…I can relate all to well. Great post…I think you’ve inspired me to find my own island of sanity tomorrow.

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