“Want to go to Wales?” I asked Jerry a few months ago. “Sure,” he said in the same way he might say, “Sure, I’ll go to the library or post office.” I began researching tours and cruises and castles. I called Princess cruise lines twice to see if we could get a discount as (ahem) “their loyal repeat customers.”
I’ve had Wales on my must-see list from an early age. As young as four or five, people began asking how to pronounce my name. Their second question always followed. “What nationality is that?” When I explained Bronwyn is a Welsh name, many would often say, “Ohhh, you must go to Wales one day. It’s beee-uuuu-teeee-ful there.”
Summer 2014 seemed like the time to go, since our house didn’t sell and it’s sizzling hot in the desert where we survive, er, live. Any summer in Phoenix is the time to go anywhere that’s cooler. The 60-plus degree climate of Wales called to us. As Jerry and I were saying, “Get ready Wales, here we come!”…life happened. To paraphrase John Lennon, Life happened while we were busy making travel plans.
Life happened specifically at an annoying curb in a parking lot. I call it annoying because it got in my way. I’m headed for a scrumptious brunch and then the curb up and tripped me very deviously. There I was…flopping flat on a cement sidewalk. I thought I sprained my ankle. But I’m not missing brunch and I hobbled to the car. After enduring ankle pain for a month, I visited a doctor and learned I had broken it. Now I’m in a walking boot with doctor orders to stay off my feet as much as possible.
Thus I placed my dreams of Wales on hold and turned my attention to this blog. My friend Harriet, owner of Simply Divine Web Design, helped me get it started. As we discussed the blog’s design, she said, “You have a very common name. I googled it and there are so many Bronwyn Wilsons. There’s a Dr. Bronwyn Wilson and so many others with your name.” I almost laughed but I knew she was serious. All my life people have commented on how unique and uncommon my name is. The comment I’ve heard most often is: “You’re the first Bronwyn I’ve ever known.” Many times, adults go with what they thought they heard me say and call me “Blown Wind” or “Barnwell” or “Brunhilda.” Sometimes they call me “Barbara” or “Rhonda” thinking that’s got to be what they heard rather than some funny-sounding name like Bronwyn. Just two days ago my dad’s pastor called me “Brown-yee.”
This leads me to wonder if our names are connected to our destiny? Perhaps if people tell you often that your name sounds like something, you begin to believe it. Consider Sue Yoo of Los Angeles. She had people telling her all her life that she should grow up to become a lawyer with a name like Soo Yoo. Today she’s an attorney. So you could say her name helped determine her destiny. When people hear my name, they don’t tell me what I should be but where I should go. Visit Wales, they say. I guess our names can determine our career choice or vacation destination.
Would I care to visit Wales if my name had been Patty Couch (which is a real name, btw, of a real person)? I don’t think so. I think I would want to visit furniture stores.
Names of towns can determine destiny as well. The longest place name in the world is located off the northwest coast of mainland Wales. Called Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwyll-llantsiliogogogoch (it rolls so pleasantly off the tongue, doesn’t it?), the town became famous for its very long name. Translated, the town’s name means “St. Mary’s Church in the hollow of the white hazel near a rapid whirlpool and the church of St. Tysilio of the red cave.” In the 19th century, a group of townspeople of this tiny village formed a committee to encourage tourism. A cobbler or a tailor (history doesn’t seem to know which) invented the name, making the town’s long name one of the most successful promotional plans of all time. People want to go there to take pictures of the town’s name posted on a long sign at the railway station and also to ask the local librarian to say the town’s name five times fast (ok, I made up the part about five times fast).
It might be interesting to note I wouldn’t have known all this interesting info if I hadn’t broken my ankle. Nor would I be sitting here passing on to you what I’ve learned about names and Wales and I haven’t yet mentioned that I discovered online a Bronwyn Wilson who trains killer whales and another Bronwyn Wilson who sews sock critters. This is stuff I would have never taken the time to know if my ankle were not broken. Not only that, I would not get the advice people are giving me now, which has a lot to do with what to do when you have a broken ankle and the doctor tells you to stay off your feet.
“Enjoy this time God has given you to slow down,” a friend wrote in an e-mail, adding, “reflect, maybe start your 2nd book…” Not bad advice at all. In fact, it’s great advice for anyone whether you have a broken ankle or not. Why, I wonder, do we need a broken ankle to remind us?
Wales can wait.