Though I do write a lot at home, much of the time I prefer to be out in public. Give me a crowded coffee shop and a table and I’m happy. Put that table near an outlet and you might have to get a court order to get me out.
I grab my cup of non-fat hot chocolate (yeah, I know…I’m deluding myself), fire up the iPod and laptop, and get writing. Somehow I get lost in the crowd. Everything around me disappears for a while.
There are times, though, when I hit a point where I need to reflect for a second, or even take a quick break. This is when my perch at the coffee shop becomes even more interesting…time for a little people watching.
There’s a table at this coffee shop I frequent (okay, it’s a Starbucks) where I’ve seen all sorts of things happen: people on a first date, people breaking up, odd sounding business proposals, an art student working on his portfolio, a couple going over the terms of their divorce, old friends talking about nothing. All this at the very same table.
But my favorite place for people watching is in Hollywood only about a 10 minute drive away. Yeah, it’s another Starbucks, but it is well positioned for the weird and wacky. It’s located at the corner of La Brea Avenue. and Sunset Boulevard. For those not from around L.A., that’s about two blocks south of Hollywood Boulevard. and maybe a ¼ mile from the Kodak theater where they hold the Academy Awards these days.
A window seat will get you ringside to Sunset Boulevard. It’s crazy. You’ll see street kids, families, working girls, police officers, regular L.A. types, wide-eyed tourists, women who didn’t start life as women, and backpacking Europeans. There are women and men dressed up for a night of clubbing, there are people who look like they’ve just rolled out of bed, and then there are the ones who dress weird.
A bus once pulled up and dropped off a load of sailors. Several ended up in Starbucks watching the weirdness outside. I overheard that they had just come in on a ship and this was their hour in Hollywood. The Chinese theater was only two blocks away on Hollywood Boulevard, but by then it was too late for them to walk up and check it out.
I once saw Death crossing La Brea. He was wearing a black robe and carrying a scythe. He didn’t seem to be too interested in anyone, so I guess that was good.
Sometimes they even come inside the coffee shop, too…well, Death didn’t. Guess he wasn’t thirsty.
I always get back to writing, though. But I love those visual interludes, love the spying on life. For me, it’s my ideal writing environment.
So what about you? What’s your ideal situation?