Before I launch into the details of my first day in Canada, let me give a little backstory/history for those who may be wondering "Why on earth did Tina go to Canada?" or "How on earth does Tina know anyone in Canada?" or "Where is Canada?"
To answer the last question first, Canada is one of the three countries we share the North American Continent with. It is way up north and makes up about half of our continent. Despite popular opinion, it is not just a slightly different type of America. Also, despite popular opinion, my albeit limited experience has revealed that people in Canada don't go around calling each other "hoser"...they are, however, fond of beer. This is probably due to the fact that they have to purchase it from a government building that looks like a jail and is not open past 9pm and because they have to drink it in fenced off "beer gardens", bars or a special closet in their home. But, this is just speculation.
I know people in Canada because of my blog. I began blogging back in 2003 and, shortly thereafter, found a few Canadians reading my blog. I started reading theirs. Then, we started commenting on each other's blogs. A few of us took our correspondence out of the blog world and into chat, email and, eventually, Facebook.
I went to Canada to visit with one such blog/Facebook person: Nin. Over the past 2 years, she has become my best friend, my homie, my sister-from-another-mister. I've blogged about her previously here and here.
It may seem weird to some people to hear (or read) me say that my best friend is someone I met on the internet, from another country, that I just met in person for the first time 8 months ago...and to that I say this:
1. If you think that's weird, you should try explaining it to a customs officer.
2. On the surface, you may be right. It is sort of strange. But, all I can say is "but God." I've met quite a few people online since I got my first dial up connection and AOL account way back in the day. Of all of those connections, this is the only one that went to that special place called "friendship". God did something very special for us at a time when we both needed it very much, for very different reasons. And, now, this person from the internet is a part of my life. A daily, vital, encouraging, caring, loving, edifying, admonishing, necessary part of my life. Most of that interaction takes place via technology (chat, email, facebook, and phone), but it is no less present and real, and singular in its consistency, depth, and emotional connection.
That said, let me say one more thing:
The reality of your dearest and closest friend living over 1000 miles away, in a word, sucks. Though we talk nearly every day in one form or fashion, I can't just pop over for coffee, she can't come crash on my couch for a cry when she's having a rough day, we can't give each other a hug when we need it. If we plan some girl time, we have to wait months and spend hundreds of dollars.
We did just that 8 months ago, when she decided to come down to meet me, for real, in person. The few days she was here with me were amazing. As thankful as I am for the time we get to spend online or on the phone, there really is no substitute for having your best friend within arms reach.
But, last Wednesday, I woke up at the buttcrack of dawn to be within arms reach of my bestie...and her family...and her friends...and sit in her house...and talk over coffee...and, generally walk around in her life for a while.
After 7 hours in planes and airports, I finally arrived in Canada and was greeted by this:
We then proceeded out into the "heat", to a car with no A/C, and drove to my friend's house. I didn't sweat one drop. We celebrated this with some photos. :)
And, then I posted about it on Facebook.
After our photos, I gave them all the gifts I'd brought from home. A camo purse for my friend's daughter, Jonah. An alligator toy for her son, Daniel, and coffee for her.
And there was much hugging...
Since it was such a nice summer day, and I could be outside...in my cardigan...and not sweat, we went out into the backyard to enjoy the day and some time together.
Then, we walked over to meet my friend's sister and mother. I've actually known my friend's sister, Sarah, longer than I've known my friend. We met in blogland way back in 2004. That connection made the amazing friendship my friend and I share possible. :)
Back when Nin came to visit me, her mom sent me a knicknack from her house. I returned the favor. :)
We visited with Sarah and "Kookum" for a while, had some yummy coffee and watched the kids run around the house. Then, we headed home to chill before dinner and I got to meet Nin's husband, Chris. He brought me flowers and a very sweet card that made me weepy. He also looked pretty fly for a white guy.
After I was done weeping, we changed and headed outside for a delicious dinner complete with steak, potatoes, salad...and mosquitos.
Mosquitos...a very surprising reality in Canada. They were everywhere, all the time. Bug spray was a necessity.
As we were wrapping up dinner, we were joined by Nin's sister and father, who strutted in with their own theme music. We chatted and swatted mosquitos together for a while, then headed inside for dessert and some Rock Band.
Jonah served me some special Canadian candy on a platter.
I approved, whole-heartedly.
When the candies had been completely consumed, we headed down to the basement for some Rock Band.
"And the man at the back said everyone attack and it turned into a ballroom blitz..."
Despite what this picture seems to indicate...I pretty much stink at rock band. I do not rock. I definitely don't rock hard. In light of this, and the late hour, we cut our Rock Band playing short and said good night.
I didn't sleep much. I just laid there thinking to myself "I'm in Canada. In Nin's house. For real."...and smiling real big. But, the lack of sleep didn't bother me. I was within arms reach of my best friend, who loved me despite my lack of rock...and so many other flaws...and who was actually excited about me being all up in her life for a week.
"I'll sleep when I'm home", I thought, as I drifted off to sleep...for approximately 3 hours.