Recently I have made it a habit to spend a couple hours before my classes start at Panera Bread drinking tea and (hopefully) working on homework. I’m in a fiction writing course right now and for some reason being alone in a busy place like this makes me focus just a little bit more than usual. Along with getting caught up on classes that I have managed to fall behind on so quickly, I have gotten to witness this flow of life in this place of business.

Truthfully, I never would have expected to see quite so many business men meeting here during “brunch” hours, although I’m sure the decent free wifi has something to do with that fact. I also wouldn’t have assumed so many of the older generation would frequent this place, often ordering just the soup or small salad with petite cups of coffee. It’s almost reassuring to see all of these people interacting in tiny ways: glances across booths, doing the small dance around each other at the “pick up order here” area, and once that I have witnessed, purchasing the coffee of the person behind them in line just because.

Humanity amazes me. (I realize that that is probably why I study the humanities and English in college). Somehow the constant chatter of voices, the smell of coffee and baked goods, mixed with the clinking of silverware on plates just makes for a pleasant place to study. A study in literature and a study in human nature. I like it here. If I weren’t so content to just sit in this corner table by the window alone, I would think that more people need to sit here and experience what I am experiencing. It’s that feeling of being in a new place and being completely at home in it. We are all strangers, and yet we are sharing a meal or a drink with the forty other people visiting this place.

A professor of mine said that eavesdropping isn’t bad if it is for research and I’m taking the liberty here to call this study in people my own nonfiction research. Sitting here now, with feint light seeping in through the blinds in front of me, I’m content to feel at home with these strangers, drinking my hot tea with my laptop in front of me. We are all works in progress here.

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