Social distancing has taken a lot of personal comforts and experiences from everyone, and it can be difficult to adjust. One of the things I miss most is studying in coffee shops. I used to buy the largest possible coffee at whatever shop I was at and use my nice pens to annotate and struggle through math problems, but it was okay because no matter how much I didn’t like the math, I liked my environment. Sometimes I went with friends and we would completely fail to do school work and just make fun of frilly and awkwardly named drinks on the menu and talk. Other times I went with friends and we would actually do the work, but it was better because there was company sitting with me in solidarity from the tedium.
Now going out in public for something as frivolous as an overpriced croissant seems irresponsible and inconsiderate, so I haven’t been since the beginning of March. I still sometimes get takeout coffee and boba, but I miss the atmosphere of coffee shops. An overstuffed armchair at my house is boring, but an overstuffed armchair somewhere else is a change of scenery. I also miss seeing my friends in casual settings and not worrying that I would accidentally get them sick.
I am not talented enough to make cafe quality lattes, and my playlists are too disjointed to have the calming energy of a coffee shop. However, I can still zoom my friends to talk, study, or work on college applications. I can still order drinks online. I can still go work at a park for a change of scenery. It is even more a privilege to live comfortably like that now than it was then, and I am glad that I do not have to give up all the little things that bring me joy in order to be safe. I can pick up takeout in a mask, and I can be at least six feet away from my friends, and I can afford a house to live and work in. I did not have to give up my sense of connectedness, only shift what it meant to me to be connected.