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.