Coffee Shop Capers



The sun is out when it wasn’t supposed to be. Looking at the lake with a warm cup of coffee in my hand, I find myself enjoying this coffee shop on a busy Saturday afternoon. I am in place of solitude, despite the noise and the presence of others in the coffee shop. I am so grateful for the solitude.

There are many stories revealing themselves here. Two girlfriends who haven’t seen each other in a month scream and hug as they connect. Parents, a young man and his fiancé stop in for a cup before they meet with the caterer to plan the wedding menu. The excitement they feel is palatable. An aunt and a mom provide support to a young college student who shares that she still has not found her place, and does not think she fits in where she is at.

Folks rush in to grab a quick cup of Joe, as you would expect. “I’ll have a latte to go!” is heard often. The latte lover grabs their order and dashes off towards the rest of their day. A coffee shop on a Saturday afternoon has a very different vibe than during the week, and I am completely enjoying this perch I am on. Instead of seeing people in professional clothing, heading to work, you notice the runners and bikers, suited up and sweaty. Folks linger over coffee and a scone, laughing,. Hands are held, tears are wiped, and folks seem refueled.

As I sit people watching and yes listening, it comes to mind that I am on the playground again. A Saturday at the coffee shop is a day on the grown up playground. People are slowing down, making time for each other or just for themselves. It is the place for human connection, whether with others or yourself.

This is a kind of grown up play the type of play that children often cannot understand. At the heart of play is pleasure, and being in this place alive with people and yet at the same time full of personal solitude is bringing me true enjoyment. This is a space where I can play with ideas. Playing with ideas, dusting off my imagination, gives me the chance to create play worlds that belong just to me. This time provides a peek into the window of my life, just as I have seen a small bit of others lives while people watching in the coffee shop.

In playing alone, I can step back from the external, electronic, structured adult world of requirements and stimulation; instead I can think, dream, hope, and imagine. I can reflect on barriers in my life and what I might want to do with them. Mainly, though, I get to know myself better than I had before. After all, I profess to be a lifelong learner. Isn’t it appropriate that I learn about me? Stay connected with me? Cherish me?

If not me, then who?


About mmtcounseling

Melissa M. Thompson, MSW, LCSW, OSW-C is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker who specializes in working with adults, children, and teen, facing the challenges of depression, anxiety, grief, divorce, and chronic illnesses such as cancer and cardiac disease. Melissa is the founder and Executive Director of MMT Counseling Services in Batavia, IL and a professor of Social Work at Aurora University. For more information, go to

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