I glanced back at the window. I'd spent the past four hours inside that cafe. Now midday was reflecting off the glass so that I could barely see within. Instead what stood out most was the backdrop of Baker Avenue covered in snow and a reflection of me.
I'd gotten nothing done in there, but the lunch rush had become so thick that a non insignificant portion of customers were entering and spinning right round to leave after seeing the line. The voices of the baristas had grown loud and shaky. Strangers were sharing tables. I had been one of the last to have a table to myself. While I'd been packing up a girl and guy with colorful canvas backpacks had approached to ask if I were heading out. Their heads tilted to confirm that they'd scored a table next to an outlet. "It's all yours." I smiled. While walking out I had thought of how nice a spot that was. The table wasn't large, but it had two outlets right underneath it and it was distant enough from the baristas to limit distraction, and finally it was beside the window offering a beautiful view of this soft snowfall of an afternoon.
There was no wind so I didn't mind allowing the snow to gently fall onto my head. I wasn't going to be outside long so I didn't need my hat. When I saw how many people were waiting at Chipotle I contemplated a moment before feeling an urge to be at Ferris Caf. It was nearby, and I missed eating there. Quickly I decided to cross Baker Ave, and I felt an excitement. But my excitement was short-lived. Thoughts of my group project for CSE 343 entered my mind again.
At Ferris Caf I took a seat at a long table that unofficialy hosted people who'd come alone. Everyone sitting here keeps their heads down glued to their phone or up and to the side either people watching -- or pretending to people watch -- or staring out the window. The cafeteria's northwall was almost completely glass looking out to the courtyard. This view is my preferred option.
This table's not a place where you take out your laptop to do work. You eat your food, maybe have a quick coffee or tea, and then you leave. The people who come alone to the caf planning to work aren't considered loners. They more approach the caf like e cafe. They'll find their own table with an outlet and plop themselves there, taking breaks only for another coffee/tea or a bathroom break. The loners' table has no unspoken code of conduct that disallows you from working. It just has too much foot traffic and wandering eyes, makes it difficult to focus on anything school related. If by chance there is some immediate deadline, then I can usually sit there and force myself to do work.
Now I actually did have a looming deadline, but I was beginning to think I'd spent so long within this feeling that I've become habituated to it. Any sense of urgency that had been present before has become down-regulated. After eating a buffalo chicken salad, a bowl of minestrone soup, and two pieces of cracked wheat bread drizzled in lucrative amounts of olive oil, I felt content sitting here surrounded by sweatshirt clad strangers, fully aware that my limited time is slipping even further. I sat there enjoying the fact that my tea was hot and that the snow was falling so softly and piled up so white. When things get real bad you need to learn to enjoy the simple things in life.
About this time of day was when Allison Mayberry was more responsive. I hadn't checked my phone the entire walk here since leaving the cafe. I was refraining from checking in case she hadn't yet replied back. Instead I made excuses of how beautiful the snow looked to buy her more time... to increase the likelihood that I'd have an unread message from her when I did eventually check my phone. I continued sipping tea until there wasn't a sip more. And then I threw back that last bit tipping the mug high. I thought of Allison and how I'd finally get to see her once I was home for the break. I thought of how great it would be for this week to be over. Then thoughts of my group project came back. I knew I should check my Shook University email. One of my groupmates might've emailed me by now. I thought that I should tell them sooner than later. Tell them everything would be ready soon and in time for our deadline. Or I thought it'd be even better yet to just tell them the truth.
I quickly cleared some space on the tabletop by moving the tray full of silverware aside. After typing in my password I booted up Google Chrome then waited for the horrible Shook University email website to load like I was on dialup. There they were: five unread emails. All of them not directly for me.
They were all messages sent en masse. Two of them sent to everyone in my class sent by the instructors. The other three were university-wide emails. congratulating us on another great semester and wishing us a happy winter break.
I closed my laptop so quick it made a thud. I looked back outside. Thought about tea. Thought about getting more. And then I finally checked my phone. I saw 2 unread messages.