At three to five visits in the six days the shop is open you were my most frequent regular. You always had a tale to tell, a smile to share, a fact to discuss, and of course the desire to find a new book to read.
Sometimes I’d see you walking past on your way to the grocery store and I’d smile knowing you’d be stopping in on your way home. Knowing that you’d probably have a story about last nights botched meal (you really only told me about the ones that leaned toward disastrous) or about what you would be attempting that night with the hilariously insulting help of Anthony Bourdain.
I don’t know when you shifted from being customer to friend, but I know it happened because now that you’re gone I am sad.
Once you came to a poetry reading, even though you knew you probably wouldn’t like it, because I invited you and you wanted to try something new.
Once I found cassette tapes of lectures by Richard Feynman a physicist whom I knew you admired and gave them to you because nobody buys cassettes any more and I knew you’d be tickled by it.
Once on a not so nice winter day you came to the shop to see if my walk needed shoveling (which it did) because you were bored and wanted something to do.
You never said goodbye. At least not in a way that was recognizable at the time. You gave me your Bourdain cookbook and inscribed my name in it underneath your own and made it clear that it was for me, not the shop. When I hadn’t seen you for a week I was worried but thought maybe you were sick. After two weeks I was more than worried, ready to start calling hospitals to make sure nothing horrible had happened. I asked around the neighbourhood, talking to people I knew from our many conversations that you spoke with and learned through the grapevine that you had moved away.
I’m glad that you are safe and healthy, but dear customer, dear friend, I miss you.