Vanishing Point A Bookand Websiteby Ander Monson



A half-year later and I find myself thinking about the North as I am spinning in my father-in-law's Subaru Baja across a couple lanes of traffic on the divided highway in Minneapolis. Approaching the median I realize that I will have to surrender my Northern card since I have just crashed the car in the only bit of winter weather I have experienced in the last 12 months. So what does it mean to reconfigure this sense of self? Can I return my Northern card? Or is it tattoo, or DNA?

The cop who comes to slow down traffic so we can right the car and drive away smirks when he sees my brand new Arizona license. He tries to hide his smirk but does not succeed. I know what my pride is worth already, unfortunately. I can't not orient myself by the pole, or further North in history, or in myth, say Ultima Thule.

I co-maintain a pseudonymous blog devoted to Northernness. I should say that I write it with a friend, though we've fallen out of updating it. This fact is sad, especially when I think about it. It is hard to be a Northerner not in the North, newly friendless in the contemporary electronic sense if not the bodily or emotional one. Luckily there is not a whole lot of damage. Part of the ground effects on the front bumper is a little winged. You don't even notice it unless you're looking. On my own Subaru Baja at home this piece is also winged. I parked my car in the tiny garage in my old house in Michigan. When it snowed, and it snowed a lot, though not a lot by Upper Peninsula standards, they would plow you into the garage. You could shovel it out, and I did, but even so the snow would get panked down enough that eventually in order to get out of the garage you'd (and by you, I mean I of course, but you would have to do so in the same situation, I suspect, so pardon the conflation and the shift) have to gun the engine to get up the slight incline, and that meant losing a little bit of control, and having to turn out of the garage meant hitting the side of the garage once, or, okay, a couple times, so that you can see the marks of that garage, that snow, that house on your car, my car, and in almost the same place, which either means I am not as good a driver as I think I am (possible but unpleasant) or that I am no longer that Northern body and brain that I was, or that these things are totally unrelated and lacking meaning, and I shouldn't be spending so much time trying to pry them open in order to lacerate myself with them.