If you’ve ever frequented any spots with people, as in if you’ve ever visited any spots with people on a regular basis, you’ll probably find others who frequent the same spot. Depending on your nature, you might care or be curious to know who they are, and what their stories are. Depending on your nature, or perhaps theirs, you might eventually get to know some of them. How much or how little you might get to know them, if you do, depends on a whole bunch of other factors. But have you ever known one or more frequenters who just stopped showing up one day, and wondered whatever happened to them? If so, how far have you taken that wondering?
I frequent a few places where I live. In particular, a quiet shopping mall food court, and a fast food restaurant for a weekly snack midway through regular errands. At these places, over the years, I have seen a lot of regulars. Usually, I notice or observe a little bit, and that’d be that. Sometimes they’re cliques of people. Other times they’re alone doing their own thing, like I’m often doing my own thing. Every now and then, someone or some group has something interesting enough to start a conversation about, and pending my nature that day, I might go talk to them about it. There have been role-playing board gamers of all sorts. There was a woman who drew and coloured all day while drinking coffee and eating fast food meals. There was another woman who dressed like a celebrity on second hand clothes, writing critiques of the New Yorker articles in a scribbler. Another was a man ate his meal in two gulps and then sat there like a statue, to let it digest would be my guess. Then there was the bag lady who came into the mall with a groceries cart full of bags and clothes, all dirty sadly, to sit at my “starship” seat with 180 degrees of windows, and leave imprints behind that I never want to sit there again. Another lady knew all the fascinating things anybody was doing at the place, because she was curious, asked, and appreciated the meaningful human contact. There are so many more people I can recall.
With each one of these regulars, I have particular memories. The role-playing board gamers taught me some things about various games while they waited for the entire group to show up. The woman who drew and coloured all day did some of her best work, in her opinion, with art supplies I gave her. I know, because she told me. The celebrity dresser provided all sorts of interesting conversations, and lost of critique time for it when I showed up. We also gave each other good psychotherapy from time to time. The fast food Buddhist, well, I don’t know anything more about him as I left him alone and only occasionally took a glance whenever I looked at my watch to see how long he had stayed that way. The bag lady I had mixed resentment for, wishing she never took my seat but happy she found the joy I found in that seat. It still puzzles me why more people in the food court don’t take that seat since there’s often lots of people already in the food court when I’m sitting down there, but the seat, or two benches of four, really, was empty! Maybe they knew it was reserved for me, and this lady didn’t. Finally, the fascinated lady, I gave her many fascinating things I knew to keep her mind young, as she said, while I also sometimes got my daily meaningful human contact. There are so many more memories I can recall.
However, it seems as of 2021, the last of these regulars who I had once known over the years, have all left their former haunting grounds. A month in and I have not seen the last of them. I had wondered where they had gone in the past, whether they were haunting some new place, or some new plane. I only thought of them sparingly, when sitting down alone, recalling them doing their things, often seeing them at it if the seats were empty. Here and now, though, I am thinking of them all at once, and seeing them all at once, even though I’m not in one of these regular spots. I see their ghosts and I wonder if the ghosts were in my mind, or real. With a little work, I could probably find out, but I don’t want to. There’s nothing to be gained for finding out, whatever actually did happen to them, for as long as I don’t know, they’ll always be alive in my mind, happy and/or at peace doing their things, sometimes with me involved. They’ll still be the regulars in my life, just in ghost form rather than corporeal form… at least until one may perhaps show up in my life again.