I woke up yesterday morning to find an email in my inbox from a friend of mine who lives in Montreal. I met her years and years and years and years ago, through a mutual friend. How I met our mutual friend, Jayne, is an interesting story in and of itself.
The first time I saw her, I was working at an ad agency. It was my first job. I heard her before I saw her. She had this deep, throaty laugh. Then I saw her. Flaming red hair, arm loads of bracelets, necklace upon necklace wound around her neck, laying over and under an Hermes scarf, tied just so. Puffing on a foul-smelling cigarette. A Gitanes. She was Canadian, but lived in Paris.
She had come to visit her brother-in-law, who was our production manager. We never exchanged even one word. She blew into the office. She smiled and waved at me. And blew out. Jewelry all a jingle. And a jangle. A whirlwind.
Who was she? I had no idea.
A couple of years later I was having drinks in a neighbour’s apartment, with several other people. It was Christmas time. All of a sudden, the buzzer rang. I heard a familiar laugh. I saw a flash of flaming red hair. And there, behind a veil of blue-grey smoke was the very same woman who’d come to the agency where, by the way, I no longer worked. I’d moved on. I was well into my second job by then.
Shocked, I looked at her, pointed, and said “I know you!”. And sure enough, she knew me too. Needless to say, we became good friends. And one day, several years into our friendship, she introduced me to Dana and her husband.
So yesterday morning Dana sends me the email, telling me she’s in Toronto for an event tonight; and wanted to know if we could meet for lunch. I can hear you saying to yourselves, “What’s so unusual about that?”
What is, unusual, though, is the fact that I’d been talking about Dana to another friend of mine who was in from out of town, just the night before. On Sunday. Why were we discussing her?
Dana just recently published a book. During WWII she and her parents, her entire family in fact, were sent to labour camps. And this book, “Danusia“, is her story. The friend I was with on Sunday night, Ellen, was in Toronto (from Ottawa) for a few days taking care of her daughter’s dogs while her daughter and her fiancé were in Boston for the long weekend.
You’re not seeing the connection yet, I’m sure. It’s a bit complicated. I’ll try to keep it simple.
In 2012 Ellen was in Montreal caring for her mother, who’d had a sudden and very serious heart attack. One day, she was at a friend’s with a group of women. One of the women started talking about a friend of hers, who’d had a fabulous trip to India and blogged about it. The reason India was a topic of conversation, is because Ellen and her husband had lived there for several years. In fact, I visited with them, in Delhi, when I was there at the end of 2008.
As Dana was talking about her friend and the blog, Ellen suddenly had the feeling she knew who Dana was talking about. You should know, it was the first time Dana and Ellen had met. Ellen turned to her and asked, “You’re not talking about Fransi Weinstein are you?”
Imagine the surprised look on Dana’s face. What was funny was, I heard separately from both of them, each telling me the story. They were both freaked out. As I was when I heard.
They saw each other a couple more times, until Ellen and her husband left for Ottawa, taking her mom with them.
When Ellen told me she was coming to Toronto, we made plans to have dinner together, at her daughter’s apartment. Sunday night. When I got there, she told me she was going to walk the dogs and would be back in about fifteen minutes. As she was about to walk out the door she handed me a copy of Dana’s book, and told me I could keep busy by reading it.
Ironically, I had asked Dana where I could buy a copy, but hadn’t heard back from her as yet.
How bizarre is it that Dana, Ellen and I were all in Toronto at exactly the same time. How bizarre is it, that about twelve hours before I heard from Dana telling me she was here, I was talking about her, and her book, with Ellen. Ellen, who I have known all my life. Ellen, whose mother met my mother in the laundry room of the apartment building they both lived in. Ellen’s parents were newlyweds. And my parents had just had me. The two couples were friends until death did them part.
First my dad died. A few years later, Ellen’s dad died. Then my mom died. And her mom died this past January. Theirs was a life-long friendship.
How bizarre is it that Dana brought me a copy of her book. The book I started to read Sunday night, while I was waiting for Ellen to get back with the dogs.
Coincidence? Serendipity? Fate? Whatever, it’s goosebump-making. And fun. There really is just six degrees of separation.