It felt a little like college this morning, packing up my papers, laptop, and red-ink pen, driving to a cafe to get some work done with a friend. Cafes are the bar of the daytime for those wishing to drink coffee, play chess, catch up with old friends, study, or blog in a nice part of a nondescript suburban downtown.

Today, my teacher friend J and I are at a lovely corner spot in downtown Walnut Creek, Caffe La Scala. It has a large, open floor format, delicious menu, early and late hours (1am?! YES!), serving coffee AND beer and wine (and we saw some delightful old ladies sipping champagne and sharing pics of grandkids earlier). Every single table around the outside perimeter features two to three outlets for the laptops that 80% of all customers here have brought to work/play on. The lady-baristas behind the counter are young, hipsters, with hard-to-define accents (Scandinavian we’re thinking) and several visible piercings. This makes the patrons feel somewhat cool. The decor is French “vintage” posters, probably purchased at Michaels or Bed, Bath, and Beyond. The Beatles are playing in the background.

The two of us have taken over a table for four, each of us with a slowly decreasing pile of papers to grade (trimester closes next Friday!) and an empty coffee cup, shared turkey sandwich plate between us.Something about not being at home somehow makes it easier to get through the things I need to do. Even with all the distractions of free wifi, people walking in and out, the occasional cute male customer, and menus, I am able to accomplish a lot more if I have to get dressed, drive somewhere, pay for parking, and drink designer coffee while doing it.

There was one slightly obnoxious girl who didn’t observe the unspoken rule that one must never speak above a hushed tone when in a cafe. Everyone was giving her looks that she either ignored or was blissfully unaware of. Since she left, we hear Paul and John singing, the occasional trill of an iphone receiving a text message (or a Words with Friends play), and the clicking of keyboards.

We’ve been eye-flirting with a baby that a Dad brought in. He’s wearing a Superman onesie and has the cutest little butt-chin. And his dad is being really cute with him. There was a really cool-looking group of people sharing salad and talking about twitter and social media and made me want to be friends with them. Every cute boy that comes in makes us all excited for five seconds, and then his girlfriend shows up and ruins everything.

In the culture that we live in, if you want to get ahead in your career, it seems like you have to expect to work on the weekends. We’ve noticed quite a few couples, each on their own laptops or ipads, some even with earphones in. Its kind of adorable, like they’re saying, “if I have to work on the weekends, I don’t want to be in the office, I want to be with you. And lets sort of pretend like we’re going out on the town while we’re at it.” They look up at each other every few minutes to share a witty observation, or decide to order more coffee or some of the delicious desserts I’ve been eye-balling here. They leave holding hands. Presh.

I like the idea of trying a new cafe place every few weeks here…feeling out the vibes. That way, when I have someone to sit across from me on his laptop on the weekends, I’ll have a few destinations in mind.