Recently a pleasant person called James came and picked up our car with his tow-truck. I left the ownership on the passenger seat, and gave him both keys. I said, “Bye-bye, car,” and went inside while he hooked it up to the truck. When I told the children the car was gone, one of them said, “Hah! Finally!” and went back to watching Olympics.
We first posted that car, a 2007 Mazda5, on various websites in January. We waited and waited, and got a few bites. The first guy wanted a car for camping, but found another one that he preferred. One couple drove up from Belleville to have a look. The woman was heavily pregnant and was reluctant to take on a car with scratches. Her husband wanted to go for it, but I know there’s no arguing with a woman close to her time. I irrationally sobbed when the bassinette skirt turned out too short when I was eight months pregnant with one of our children, and decorated the entire house for Christmas before another was born at the end of November. I sympathized, while at the same time wishing they would just buy the GD car.
Then in July the air-conditioning in the car suddenly stopped working. A car without AC would have been an even harder sell in this boiling hot Ottawa summer. We decided to give it to the pandas.
I discovered on the World Wildlife Fund site when I was looking for something else that one could donate one’s car to the WWF. The irony does not escape me. I logged on to World Wildlife Fund Canada and filled out the online form. We’ll get a tax receipt after the Mazda is auctioned. It probably won’t be for very much, but that is better than having a car in the driveway sucking up insurance money every month.
Now the driveway is open for any guests that may come by. Most of them seem to come by bike, so they can come clear up the driveway and not have to dodge the car. The cat can wriggle around wherever she wishes. I keep the garage-door opener in my bike basket and press what the children call the magic button as I draw up to the garage. I like this subversion of the suburban dream; I’m not in a car, and not in the suburbs.
I was disappointed that the WWF did not send any actual pandas to pick up my car. It would have been a nice touch to have the tow-truck driver in a panda costume.
I recently saw you race your last Olympic race. I always forget how fast you are, and how totally earnest and Canadian you are in interviews. I remember you racing in the Beijing Olympics in 2008. I was in the hospital after giving birth to my third child, our daughter. I watched you in the middle of the night, while I was feeding her. I had never bothered to get a TV in my room when I had the boys, but they were not born during the Olympics. It was totally blissful to have mandated time in bed and nothing to do except look after one baby (the two-year-old and six-year-old were safely at home with Dad) and watch Olympics.
I remember that there was something in that Olympics about you not doing as well as expected in one of your races, but that is very vague in my mind. What is very clear is an image of you in your boat, racing like the dickens, the picture of health and capability, and let’s face it, good-looking like crazy. I initially felt envious, like you were capable of so much more than I. I also felt surprised that I was able to appreciate your physical beauty not long after a Caesarean section. There was still life in me yet, it seemed. I felt the opposite of capable, with a wound in my abdomen. This was my second C-section. You see, it turns out that when I am pregnant, my pelvis separates, front and back. All three times. My first labour exacerbated the damage, because it lasted 52 hours. I had 9 months of physio, and had another baby boy three years later, by C-section to bypass the pelvis. After that pregnancy, I had 16 months of physio. Our baby girl was born 33 months after our second boy. I had a year of physio, and that was the last baby.
I lay there in my bed, feeding my baby and feeling totally battered. One sweats a lot after giving birth, and I was really itchy after the drugs they gave me for the C-section. I felt lumpish, and could barely walk, and I looked upon you as someone almost from a different species.
But then I realized that our project was really the same: to do something that was not easy for the human body to do, and to keep doing it even though it hurt. I realized that the human body was astonishing in its capabilities, and that your body and my body and the body of my little girl shared that quality. You helped me realize that, and I want to say thank you. I too am super-earnest and Canadian.