I need advice. Perhaps this is a dilemma you have also faced.
I like to write in cafes, especially after my morning’s initial writing session is done, in the faith that some fresh air and a change of scene will keep the writing going. England’s Lane, in my neighbourhood, has several cafes that I remember from previous years, but they are sometimes already busy when I walk past.
There is a new cafe, on the corner, and it looks very pleasant, but most days, for much of the day, it is filled with babies. It seems to have become a hub for mothers with small children. I have so far avoided it, because I have always suspected I would feel morally inferior to these mothers with child, and every new face that came in would rouse a desire in me to hand over my seat, thus defeating the object of leaving the house to write.
This week, I decided to brave the cafe. The place was quiet when I arrived, and I climbed the stairs to the alcove above, and plugged my laptop in. However, babies and toddlers soon began to multiply. I was quite comfortable, set up on the upstairs sofa, occupying the whole of the sofa. Yet each newly arriving parent wore a quickly familiar smile, the sort of expression that said they were relieved to have reached the cafe, and if they did not find a place for their children to sit in the next five minutes, life would no longer be worth living. Chaos and night would descend.
I stayed and typed until my strength (or self-concern) gave way, and I moved to a different coffee shop.
Was I wrong to feel bad, or wrong to hang around so long? If I had bought more than a single espresso, would that have changed anything?
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