I walked into the bike shop today, for the first time since I'd left last fall.
It all began earlier in the day, while I was on errands elsewhere in the neighborhood.
I ran into a former co-worker who had switched jobs shortly after I'd left; he told me that things had changed a bit, that a bunch of new people (including several apprentices) were hired and that another co-worker Iw as on friendly terms with had just gotten engaged.
More significantly, the fellow whose actions had been the primary impetus for my sudden departure was not working there now. He was on some vague kind of long-term leave of absence and it was unclear whether he would return to the shop at all.
So I went in.
My co-worker happily showed me her engagement ring and promised to let me know when a date for the wedding was chosen. Another co-worker who'd had some health issues looked a whole lot better now, twenty pounds lighter and with good color in his cheeks. And the shop looked pretty much the same, with only a handful of new store fixtures added here and there. I wandered around, chatted for several minutes with folks, and left.
It had felt, well, mostly okay. Sort of empty in moments. I heard some sad things about the co-worker on indefinite leave; that he'd had some real issues since my departure and had grown less communicative and more unhappy in general. I don't know if he will return to work. I am surprised to find that I don't actually care a whole lot either way. I doubt I'll go back any time soon. I alternated between moments of familiarity and moments of feeling almost nothing.
I'm glad I went in, and don't feel any real need to return. There are at least half a dozen bike shops closer to where I live and a couple where I feel completely and genuinely welcome and now do most of my bike-related shopping. It's all good.