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06 January 2011 @ 10:57 am
casual acquaintances  
On my way to the office this morning, the panhandler who calls me "Smiles" was at his post, for the first time this week, and as he does most of the mornings that we see each other, he said good morning, and called me "Smiles", and it made me smile, and we wished each other a happy new year.

Of course, soon I won't be walking by him every day, and there's a good chance we'll never see each other again, despite seeing each other several times a week for the better part of three years.

So it goes with those people who become part of our routines without becoming part of our lives. I think about these people in my life a lot, and wonder if they think of me sometimes, too.

The first time I really tuned into it was at a noodle shop in Chinatown that Aileen and I used to frequent. We almost always had the same server, and he came to recognize us, especially as a pair, but the couple of times either of us went in without the other, he would exclaim about the other's absence. And the couple of times we brought a third with us, he exclaimed about that, too. I haven't been back there since the breakup, but I know he wouldn't recognize me, both because I look very different now, and because there would be no context clue to help him know me, so that moment in recognition and stranger connection has passed. I wonder how he is.

It's easy to think about and wonder about -- and these days of the internet, find out about! -- people who were once a big part of my life and now aren't. And because those relationships are often better defined, they may have less of a sense of open-endedness, emotionally. A. and I didn't know that the last time we went in for noodles together would be the last time we did that, and so certainly not that it would be a last time to say hello or goodbye to noodle man.

Of course there are lots of people like this in a life. There's the woman I used to buy avocados from in Xela, and the one who sold me eggs. There's the crossing guard I used to pass every morning on my way to the T when I lived in Medford. There are all the vendors around my office now who I see and chat with every few days while I wait for a sandwich or a slice of pizza.

I think maybe I'll tell Mr. Smiles goodbye on my last day here.
I'm feeling: nostalgicnostalgic
I'm listening to: Frou Frou - Let Go
Mizarchivist: Mirrormaskmizarchivist on January 6th, 2011 04:28 pm (UTC)
I think about these things, too
Ah, sounds like Jeff who stands in front of the 7-11 at Park St. I wonder what happened to his leather jacket he had last season. I see him pretty often, too, but he's trained me out of offering him any of my extra food. He never accepts. :/
stephanie m. clarksonthespian on January 6th, 2011 06:33 pm (UTC)
when I worked at Kinko's in Harvard Square, on the overnight shift, I used to go to BeBop Burrito in the Garage after my shift, because they didn't have a breakfast menu, and I could get the dinner my body stated it was ready for.

After experimenting some I settled on a chicken burrito with extra guac and pico de gallo. Eventually I didn't even need to order it, just walk in, and it was half made by the time I got to the counter.

then I moved to Raleigh, and came back once to visit, about 8 months later. As soon as I walked in, the guy behind the counter whooped, and said my name, and my usual order. I was touched and taken aback that he remembered.
B.K. DeLongbkdelong on January 6th, 2011 06:41 pm (UTC)
When I was eating-out for lunch more, Delicatos in Government Center had a staff that would see me walk in the door and they would immediately begin making my sandwich. If there was a line, by the time I got to the front of it, they rang up my order and all I had to do was smile, thank them and hand them my debit card.
B.K. DeLong: drwho laidbackbkdelong on January 6th, 2011 06:39 pm (UTC)
I'm very routine oriented myself. There's the Spare Change guy outside my office with the dark glasses who constantly says "Ladies aaaaand gentlemen", the tall, handsome, fast-talker who heats up pizza at Vigas who remembers names or gives nicknames to anyone (who incidentally apparently works at the Starbucks down the street in the early morning).

I often wonder if and when I ever leave my workplace how long it will take to get acclimated to the new routine. Looking for the new faces, eating at new places, lunching with friends who work near that office, how long the particular commute will take and what the routine will be in order to catch the train home on-time...

I wish you well on your next adventure with regards to wherever your new place will be and hope you find your new faces quickly, settling in comfortably and happily.