24 January 2008

La Place

Today I’m a reluctant café blogger. I’m finally on a working streak and to uproot organization and exit my warm, cozy home seems counterproductive. But I’m committed to living the motto that variety can only stimulate creativity. I hope I’m right.

I’m in La Place, one of the many in Leiden and one of the (no doubt) thousands of La Place sites in the Netherlands. It’s a buffet-style eatery, but much more upscale than anything I grew up referring to as a buffet. As a Midwestern girl, I think “Old Country” in front of “Buffet” and picture obese couples piling mashed potatoes and dinner rolls onto their plates. Here, though, freshly blended fruit juices, sautéed vegetables, made-to-order pizzas and pasta dishes abound. And this is one of the less-amply stocked locations.

And unlike my rather laid-back experience last week, this place is humming with activity. There are about 50 lunch stragglers hanging out in the vicinity. No one looks particularly hurried to battle the gray, windy day, and the hum of their conversation increases as they contemplate another coffee. The La Place staff seems busy cleaning up from the earlier rush, with glasses and plates crashing together at regular intervals from behind the scenes. A pop music station plays in the background and is only interrupted by the occasional “don’t miss this great deal” announcement from the department store below.

There are a few other solitary visitors. One is a male about my age with a large book spread out before him. But he’s not making much of an effort to read it. Instead, he alternates gazing around the room with playing with his mobile phone. Occasionally he acknowledges the book and his jaw sets in a frustrated, agitated manner. He scans for a moment before sighing and staring again off into the distance, perhaps contemplating the very mystery that haunts my days: Why can’t I concentrate?!?

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