While I spent most of the semester discussing cafes and coffee shops on and around campus, I’d like to shift gears for a moment. While one of my favorite study places of all time, Tim Hortons, doesn’t exist around Penn State, it ties into my overall story quite well.
After not seeing my parents for two months, I walked out of math class on a Friday afternoon and saw my mom’s green Jeep Commander in a parking space. All week we texted each other raving about the abundance of shopping we’d do and coffee we’d drink. She used to despise the taste of the caffeinated goodness which gets me out of bed each morning, but now we’re almost as bad as Rory and Lorelai Gilmore.
Another key point I failed to mention about my mom and I: neither of us have a sense of direction. We drove away from home approximately 10 miles for lunch and then began driving back towards the university. While Siri instructed us to take the Penn State exit, my mom stayed on the highway, insisting that since home was the destination, there was no reason to get off there.
Google Maps was sending us to SUNY Geneseo, the location of the first Tim Hortons on our trip, but not exiting made the trip duration significantly increase, most likely since the new route we embarked upon diverged from the one which goes to the college. However, neither of us even considered just skipping the coffee, so we travelled toward Lockhaven for a while. As soon as I realized how far away from the initial path we were, our phones lost signal and we were stuck on a 50 mile long winding road.
With dirt roads serving as the only opportunities to leave this road, we stayed on it and hoped for the best. When we finally arrived in New York, my phone began working again, and I truly realized how far from home we were. After driving a little over 4 hours, Google Maps claimed the tip still had another hour left. While seeming bad, the extra time wasn’t the end of the world. We could still make it home before dark and have our coffee. The only issue? We were an hour from Geneseo. Buffalo is at least another hour farther.
Once in New York, we navigated the Stony Brook Forest (yet another series of winding country roads void of cell reception) and finally were prompted to enter a highway. Impressively, my mom kept her cool up until this point. However, as soon as Siri mentioned entering a road bound for Binghamton (3 hours east of Buffalo) she panicked. She pulled over and just didn’t understand how we ended up closer to Syracuse than Buffalo. I reminded her that we let the coffee dictate this whole trip and she just laughed and said “oh..yeah you’re right!”
Therefore, we proceeded to Geneseo as the sun began setting and ordered both food and drinks since we hadn’t eaten since we left Penn State. Despite the rough drive, an old friend from high school was working the register and “accidently” made me a large Iced Cappuccino instead of a medium! In addition, we ate pretzel bagels (something I have yet to find here!) and bought a few in bulk to bring back to school.
We got back on the road shortly after and continued the journey home, but it flew by extremely quickly. My only explanation for that is the coffee!
So what’s the moral of the story here? Even if coffee causes your problems, it can fix them too! Some of my greatest friendships, funniest encounters, and most memorable moments derive from experiences involving cafes or coffee shops. While the consumables themselves emerge as an important aspect of the experience, the proceedings which occur at these places serves as a key component of the experience as well. Whether I am at home or in State College, coffee shops and cafes serve as social locations, study spots, are just a place to relax for a few minutes.