Perfectly Peregrine


November 23, 2011, Washington, DC: About once a week, I stop into Peregrine Espresso by Eastern Market on my way out of the city. With each early visit, I grow more envious of my neighbors who spend the morning here, hunched over their laptops, strong coffee in hand, comfortably working in the bright shop surrounded by wide, lime green, horizontal stripes adorning its walls. Some coffee shops are afternoon joints -- rainy day places that lure you in with big armchairs, dark furnishings and quiet strength. Peregrine is most certainly meant for mornings. Its floor-to-ceiling front window, its hardwood floors, its geometric artwork, and its limited, cut-to-the-chase drink menu welcome you to wake up. Here is an atmosphere that encourages you to caffeinate. To sit up straight. To stay sharp. I always hate to leave with coffee to go rather than dive in right here.

This morning, I am one of the lucky ones. Today I am working from home.

I’m thinking about that phrase "working from home" this morning, thinking it’s somewhat deceiving. Some would argue I’m not home; others would say I’m not working. But among several lessons I’m learning throughout the course of this project, two in particular stand out on this official day off. One is that home is a word that extends far beyond its traditional definition. Home comes in many forms, transcends the boundaries of the front door. Another is that for all of its pleasures, the pursuit of this project – the writing, the documenting, the observing, the committing – is indeed hard work.

Do you work from home? Is the work you do here different from the work you do there? Do you sometimes find working from home more inspiring and less distracting than buckling down in the office? Do you have a place like Peregrine that fires you up and engages you in your surroundings?

It’s abnormally warm outside this morning. The daylight is an odd and striking shade of yellow, like we're gearing up for a dark curtain to drop and it's about to pour. This place is packed and loud and humming. The counter facing the baristas is the space where customers converge to chat and catch up; it's no place for those tapping a high heel waiting for a complex, custom order before rushing away. I’m feeling productive. Like this is the place for me.

As it turns out, it is. The definition of peregrine is painted smack dab on the window here next to the front door.

1. Foreign; alien. 2. Roving/wandering; migratory

This is the perfect place for a neighborhood nomad.