Two degrees of separation

Nothing makes me feel more painstakingly folksy than being a Winnipegger in a large city.

I spent my reading week perusing Toronto’s various subway stations, galleries, diners and dives. It’s a wonderful city. It also reminded me of how impossible it is to conceal my Prairie mannerisms.

Prairie cities are far too cold for residents to not form natural bonds of solidarity with one another. You’ll never know when you’ll need someone to help push your car out of a snowbank or when you’ll run into an ex at a social.

Keeping a few spare cigarettes to pass on becomes a habit when living in Winnipeg’s inner city. But offering a cigarette to someone without asking for a loonie in return compelled one Toronto man to express how his faith in humanity has (somehow) been restored because of it.

Even in other cities, we end up bonding with fellow Manitobans. A friend I spent an afternoon with remarked that despite living in a city of just under three million people, her strongest bonds were built with Winnipeggers she’d encountered in Toronto.

In this issue, a review of local filmmaker Tavis Putnam’s A Social highlights similar sentiments. True, there’s a loneliness to living in a “frozen wasteland,” but there’s a sense of prevailing connection, too. As the old adage here goes, we’re never more than two degrees of separation from one another.

So while I occasionally enjoy the anonymity of big cities like Toronto, there’s something about being deeply intertwined with one another that feels comforting. It feels right.

It’s getting cold out there. We need each other.

Published in Volume 77, Number 06 of The Uniter (October 20, 2022)

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