** Title inspired by this video from the Royals winning the division, wherein Danny Duffy wears a bear suit.
Last week, at long last, I went on vacation. Or, I made a noble head fake in that direction.
My best friend, Robyn, was getting married up in Canada, so I set forth to be the maid of honor. And like all good clergy maids of honor, this included supplying at Robyn’s church the next day. The wedding was fabulous, and her church is made of darling folks who clearly love her a lot. It was great to see.
This was as far into Canada as I have ever gone, really. I went to the Canadian side of Niagara Falls in middle school (back when the US-Canadian border was basically an affable toll-booth guy), and I went to Montreal once on a high school choir trip. This was my first taste of pure, unadulterated Canada-ness: post 9/11, post Bush years, post economic crash.
Everyone was exceedingly nice and polite, but I knew to expect that. What I did not expect was how much free stuff there was. Starbucks had a basket of free blankets to borrow if you got cold. WiFi was free everywhere you went. The airports all had free seating, unobstructed by pesky armrests, and free WiFi. I contemplated the rows of seats, and realized with a jolt that this airport in Toronto probably didn’t care if someone laid down to take a nap. They probably didn’t make you pay money for access to a special lounge for that.
I am used to thinking of the US as a very rich country, and so we are. But, as Robyn pointed out when I commented on this to her, we may be rich, but we’re not very generous.
Other exciting things I experienced in Canada:
–Are you an ex-pat American visiting Canada? Tell of your experiences with the American health care system to any Canadian you meet, and watch their faces contort in horror! (Seriously. This is so much fun/painful.)
–There is tea everywhere. So much tea. If you order hot tea in a restaurant, be prepared to be presented with a jewelry box of every tea variety featured in your local American grocery store. And not the off-brand, herbal teas either–the Twinings-esque good stuff.
–Gas is priced in pennies–a form of Canadian currency that they actually no longer use. However, this fun fact should prevent you from hyperventilating when you remark the gas station sign that tells you that you have to pay 103 of something for a liter of gas.
–Little old ladies in Edmonton are die-hard Lent Madness fans.
–Getting older is unavoidable. However, no matter how old you get, so long as you have friends you can dance to “Goodbye, Earl” with, life is very good.