September 16, 2011

I followed a vintage Volksawagen micro-bus up the mountain to work this morning.  It was a beauty; red and white paint job all shiny and well-loved; a matching vintage trailer; the dignity of a tortoise as it wound it’s way slowly, but surely, up the road.  I began to get frustrated.  I needed to arrive at work on time; not Volkswagen time.  I was not feeling farfegnugen.
As we made our way around the first hairpin turn on the 8% grade at 20 miles per hour I remembered: that used to be me. I took 10,000+ miles of road trips in a 1986 Volkswagen Vanagon–Wolfsburg edition, oohhh–at an average speed of 50 miles per hour.  I will admit that 50 may be a bit of an exaggeration.  In the days at the end of the first engine, we dropped as low as 10 miles per hour on a 9% grade in Colorado once.  I offered to get out and push. But we could hit 70 on a downhill with a tail wind.  It happened! Once or twice.
So here I am behind me on a mountain road.  It is a beautiful day.  The boss is out of town–and besides, very understanding about being slowed down by unavoidable obstacles.– The guy in the van is headed up to the Volkswagen festival. Of this, I am certain.  He’s not in any hurry…
And then I remember what that felt like.  Early on in our adventures, I realized that if I focused on the destination and timeliness, my head would explode.  I realized that being on the road in a Vanagon is very different from life as I knew it. Being away from the daily grind; looking at the scenery and really seeing it; no dishes in the sink; no bills coming in… That is a kind of freedom most Americans never get to experience. Time changes from a chain of linked events, each with a deadline, to a silver thread weaving it’s way down a two-lane highway of extraordinary beauty. Maybe that’s what they mean by “farfegnugen.”
So I let off the gas and eased off his bumper.  We crept up the grade.  I smiled and enjoyed the view.  The VW driver kindly slipped into a wide spot and gave me and the dozen cars behind us a chance to pass.  I yelled, “I love ya’ man!” as I went by.  I hope he heard me.
I lost the van in the divorce.  But if I lose the farfenugen, I’ve lost much more than transportation.  I don’t want to own my own microbus because I don’t want to become an auto mechanic.  And I don’t think an impeder on my Ford is going to have the desired effect.  I guess I just have to keep a shiny, beautiful microbus in my heart.

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