Saturday, April 02, 2016

Driving self and family

In the middle of volume 3, young Knausgaard and his family are driving north to his mother's parents' farm in summer. He describes passing rest areas along the road where people stopped and had picnics.

"I would ask after seeing such a rest areas because breaks, alongside ferry crossings, belonged to the high points of the journey. We, too, had a cooler bag in the trunk; we, too, had a thermos, juice, and a little pile of plastic glasses, cups, and plates with us. "Don't pester me," Dad would say then, desperate to cover as many kilometers as he could in one go. That meant, at the very least, we would have to drive to the end of Setesdalen, past Hovden and Haukeligrend and up Mount Haukeli, before the question of a break even came into consideration. Then we would have to find a suitable place because we would not take the first opportunity, oh no:  if the stops were few and far between, then the location of the rest area had to be something special."

I won't go so far as to say that my dad was just like this, but it rings very true, both for him and for me. I recognize even in myself the intense focus on covering enough ground to justify the stop, as if there is some sort of metaphysical or moral measure there. How could one stop after only 35 minutes? We have not earned it. Where does this logic come from? Whence this excess sternness, this completely superfluous goal orientation.

I know that, on long trips, I am constantly counting time, miles, gas mileage, thinking about traffic we are likely to hit around DC, or New York, or whatever. I am, at least, pretty decent about taking rest stops whenever. I am, indeed, the prime urinator on our trips, though I get it honest, to be sure, as a man fast approaching 50. So I'm not a stop Nazi about that stuff.

But there are other things. I hate to cross over so that we need to make a left turn when we're done with our stop. I had totally forgotten it, but Leslie assures me I got this from dad.

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