Connections are everywhere. Just watch for them


Let me set the scene:  I was standing in a store in Sherman Oaks, California.  I don’t live there.  In fact I don’t live anywhere nearby.  Rather, I live about 70 miles away in Southern Orange County.  But, we were visiting my elderly mother-in-law and the store was one I’d heard about so often that I had decided to visit despite the fact that it was a quarter to six and the store closed at six p.m.

I had been in touch with the owner of this beautiful clothing store but she didn’t recall my name.  When she asked me my name I said, “Brenda Barrie.”  At that point, from a dressing room about ten feet away, came a voice saying, “Is that Brenda Gallis? (My birth name)  And out popped a delightfully sunny face, one I did not know, who said, “Hi,I’m Jackie. I was in Bat Sheva, Your BBYO group in Winnipeg.”  And she was, and she had been.

We then had a conversation so rapid-fire and so familiar, with the names of so many people flying back and forth between us, my cousins who had been her friends, our mothers who had done major volunteer work together way back in the 5o’s, her neighbors who had been my friends, my friends who had been her neighbors, that I think some of the names must have stuck to the walls of the shop where they will exist forever.

I should say that this sort of thing happens a lot; running into people from Winnipeg, or people with a connection to Winnipeg.  That’s because a lot of people living in that very cold city in the middle of Canada, north of North Dakota, left for sunnier climes, and you can’t do much better than California for sunshine.  But, running into Jackie Sunshine  (and yes, that’s her real name) was a first, where the connection was so deep, so intense and so personal.

Jackie has been kind enough to let me use her real name.  It adds such a delicious dimension to this story. The interesting fact is that the two years in age that separated us in Winnipeg,  has shrunk down to nothing.  She has lived in Saskatchewan and then in various places in California.  My husband and I have lived in Alberta (one province over for those of you who think the world ends at the northern border of the United States) and then in a wide range of cities in the Midwest and on the east coast before moving to ‘California, where we hope to stay.  It took a chance meeting in a lovely boutique in Sherman Oaks, California to bring us together and to further re-introduce her to some people she’d lost touch with and some people I’d lost touch with through the magic of Facebook et al.

I did ask her how she knew the name Brenda Barrie, since that is not a name I used as a teenager, nor is it my married name, but rather my first and middle name, the name I write under.  She said, “I’m not sure.  I think I heard it from my mother, or something.  But I just knew it was you.”

As I’ve said,  “Connections are everywhere.  Watch for them.”




About Brenda Barrie

Brenda Barrie has had a career as a Jewish communal professional in her hometown, Winnipeg, Canada, in Minneapolis, Baltimore and Orange County, California. Previously a feature writer and editor, she has brought her range of skills and her travels to her two novels, The Binding and The Rabbi’s Husband, and to her volume of poetry, Full Speed. Full Stop.
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