Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Past Deadline: Gotta Go, My Mom's Waiting

Some women turn to medicine cabinets, beauty parlours or spas when they feel the passage of time taking its toll.

Fancy lotions, anti-wrinkle regimes, diet and exercise plans, even psychotherapy – there are lots of things we can do to help us feel younger.

I have a different plan. It’s a little complicated, but it might save you a few dollars.

Here’s how it works.

First you make arrangements for your husband to get a new full-time job in the city that requires him to commute every day. (Hurray! He’s not working from home any more!)

The next step is to stop, scratch your chin and say, “Hm. We only have one vehicle and we aren’t quite sure whether we are prepared to buy a second car.”

Then you hoof it all over town as much as you can. You get blisters when necessary, just to remind yourself about how good you are being by walking everywhere – even when not wearing appropriate footwear.

Here’s the clincher, though. The thing that truly makes you feel young again is bumming rides from your parents.

Yes, it has come to this.

My mommy and daddy give me rides to and from Algonquin College (where I teach part-time) a few times a week. I bum a ride home from a friend on one of those days. I figure it gives my parents a little break so they don’t disown me.

Sometimes I borrow their van or my in-laws’ car and sometimes even my friend’s van for far-off appointments or errands requiring copious amounts of baggage or to transport children longer distances. Occasionally I beg rides from other friends (once to get my licence plates renewed – which was kind of ironic).

This bumming of rides and borrowing of cars makes me feel like a high-school student again. It’s awesome in a this-is-kind-of-a-huge-pain-in-the-butt-for-me-and-a-buncha-other-people sort of way.

I can’t tell you how thrilling it is to utter, after so many years, that timeless refrain: “I gotta go. My mom’s picking me up and she’ll be mad if she has to wait.” Only these days instead of two friends piling into the vehicle with me, my two kids are strapped into the back.

Yeah. This is NOT my 1980s.

Okay, so let’s just say this sure-fire anti-aging plan doesn’t always make a person feel young and carefree. In fact, sometimes the additional planning it requires actually seems terribly grown-up and not-so-high-schoolish.

I know people who have firmly rejected the idea of car ownership – and I don’t just mean two cars but ANY cars. They have thrown off the chains of monthly payments, insurance and maintenance costs and the need for a bigger driveway. (Anyone who has seen our driveway knows there is barely room for one vehicle, let alone two. Vertical parking, anyone?)

I really would like to be one of those people who doesn’t rely on a car. Sometimes I think it might be possible.

I also want to be stricter about screen time for my children, eat nothing but a 100-mile diet, use only all-natural cleaners, never use my dryer, become a role model for exercise and, of course, save the world, but I seem to be much better at preaching than practising.

Every time I gather up two or three heavy bags of things on a rainy day when I have to be many kilometres away from home, I realize I might be losing the battle against owning a second car.

Fortunately my parents, who bore the brunt of my chronic wheel-lessness during one or two particularly busy weeks in September, have been really good about it. For one thing it gives us the chance to assess and discuss progress at various construction zones around town and contemplate the best routes when we hear a train coming.

Mom had a good laugh when I told her she could depend on me to return these favours by giving her a ride any time she needed one – as long as it was on a weekend or any time after 7 p.m. on a weeknight.

So, I’m going to focus on the positive: not only does bumming rides keep me dry and blister free, I’m also saving heaps on anti-aging potions. Yay!
Published in The Perth Courier, Oct. 7/10

No comments: