Now and then

During December, the Nova Scotia Liquor Corporation (NSLC, aka the provincial liquor store) gave out coupons good for $10 off sales of $50+ from January 1 to 20, so the liquor stores were doing swift business today. I’d had my eye on a “coming soon” sign on a shelf in the single malt whisky area of the Barrington store, so checked it out today, with my own coupon at the ready.


It turned out that, although it was indeed an Islay whisky, it was some upstartish name that just wouldn’t do. But right next to it was something that definitely would: Caol Ila is located near Port Askaig, a tiny place across the water from mostly unpopulated Jura, the island where Orwell wrote 1984.


While I was happily finding a bottle of some summer lunches spent in Port Askaig’s Snug Bar, the NSLC piped music was Arlo Guthrie’s “City of New Orleans,” just to make me dizzy with a multitude of other places and other times. That’s a song I listened to a lot as I meandered across the continent from Pennsylvania to California when I left for college. And years later, I learned that Arlo Guthrie had spent time, as a Secular Franciscan, working at Oakland’s St. Elizabeth’s Church, near which I lived for a while when I first moved to Northern California.


I attended Mass once at St. Elizabeth’s, and that was with my friend Dawn, about whom I wrote here a few days ago. It was after she’d been accepted as a postulant but before she’d saved the requisite dowry required for her to enter the monastery.


Which brings me to a phone conversation I had last night with a complete stranger in Maryland. One of Sr. Bethany’s best friends from high school has been googling her lost classmate a couple times a year for years and got a hit two nights ago. She contacted me via this blog and convinced me quickly that she was the real deal with her memories of Dawn’s likes and dislikes just at the juncture where high school was over and college was beginning. I phoned the number this stranger offered and we talked long enough for her to get the info she needs to get in touch now, more than 30 years after they last connected. Now that is going to be one big blast from the past!

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