Palm Trees, Hermit Crabs and Public Nudity

Sometimes the heart wants what it wants no matter what the trouble or hurdles it must overcome to get what it covets.

In my case, my heart wanted to prance merrily among the streets lined with palm trees and breathe in American smog in sunny California with my good friend Jen.

This meant pulling my sorry ass out of bed hours before the buttcrack of dawn and trying to unglue my eyelids and convince my body that I wasn't abusing it by forcing it into the shower at three a.m to make it to the airport in time for my six a.m. flight.

It also meant standing in an unmoving line like cattle waiting to be slaughtered with other weary travelers at the airport, stifling yawns and trying to remember if I packed my damn passport to get past the surly morning customs agents who were obviously not getting paid to be cheerful at that ungodly hour of the day.

It meant yanking off my cowboy boots at security and almost falling on my ass as I hopped about on one foot in front of about two hundred annoyed people. It meant having to walk through the metal detectors twice, having to remove my shirt so I stood before some fairly googly eyed perverts in a scanty and tight tank top because I was a dumbass and grabbed a shirt with metal buttons and thanking Gawd himself that I remembered to shave my pits and put on a bra underneath said tank top.

Just when I was wishing the earth would swallow me whole as I buttoned my shirt back up the x-ray technician stopped the conveyor belt, grabbed my boots and held them up for all the world to see.

"Who's boots are these?" he shouted as the line of muttering people fell silent. up now, I commanded in my head as I raised my hand and said, "They're mine." I tried to remember if I packed a bomb or a knife in the heel of my shitkickers, but since I can barely fit my damn feet in them, I was pretty confident I hadn't.

About 200 people craned their necks curiously watching this small morning security drama unfold.

The technician, a dude who looked like he pushed the snooze button one too many times before his shift at the airport started and didn't have time to comb his hair, smiled and looked at my boots.

"I just wanted to tell you I really like them. I love Canadians. You must be from Alberta," he grinned as he handed back my boots and the crowd watched me turn from pink to bright red.

"Ya, thanks," I said as I jammed my feet back into the boots I now hated. I could feel the eyes of everybody on my feet. "I freaking love Yankee security guards," I muttered under my breath. Nothing like being put on the spot in the midst of a crowded line filled with anxious people to really wake one up at five in the morning.

Does air travel get any better than this, or is it just my air travel experience?

The things I do to go get naked in California.

I'd do it all over in a heart beat just for the sweet moment of being able to sit outside on a patio, drink mojitos under the smoggy American sky while debating American and Canadian politics with the lovely and beautiful Jen as creepy men tried to hit on us and join our party.

Somehow my time spent in America is always more inebriated amusing than my quiet life in the wilds of rural Canada. Especially when the time is spent drunkenly arguing over whether Red Vines are better than Twizzlers.

(I don't care how much liquor I ingest, my vote will always go to Twizzlers.)

Toss in a few art galleries, a couple historical monuments and an eye opening tour of inner city life in the U.S and I walked away feeling decidedly small. Provincial even. And only a little because I was wearing boots best only worn while riding horses or herding cattle.

It was a trip filled with electric moments; the kind you won't ever forget and last a life time treasured deep in the recesses of your memory. Moments imprinted on your soul. The types of memories that define our very existence and make the path we walk and all the crap we trod through worth it.

There are just some things a girl just needs to do. Getting drunk off of smuggled booze at ten in the morning while sitting in a swanky spa butt naked with a best friend is something every person needs to experience occasionally.

Just like every good friend should fly all the way to another country just to take a spoon and poke at her friend's hermit crab to determine if it's still alive and then look the other way as her friend finally admits defeat and wraps up said dead crab to store in the freezer until her man comes home to deal with it.

I mean, I'll poke the damn critter with a spoon but I'll be darned if I'm actually going to bury it. I'm country but I'm not that country.

Yet in the blink of an eye, more cocktails than my body appreciated and an uneventful flight back to domestic soil, it's over and real life has once again reared it's ugly head with children, sport schedules and a brand new DVR system that refuses to work.

Still, it's good to be home. The fresh clean air, the wide open spaces and the absence of Sarah Palin all remind me of why I love Canada so much.

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To the security guards who I may have openly mocked, I'm sorry. I have happy hands. I can't seem to help myself.