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What is was like to fall asleep in your car at night as a child.
October 8, 2013 6:07 PM   Subscribe

An animated comic that tries to capture what it was like to fall asleep in the car at night as a child. (via)
posted by SpacemanStix (55 comments total) 162 users marked this as a favorite

 
Well, that is just terrific. A hundred sense memories flooding back.
posted by Miko at 6:22 PM on October 8, 2013 [15 favorites]


Lovely.
posted by moonlily at 6:27 PM on October 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


I agree. I'm in my 50's now - almost the age my grandparents were when they took us kids (me and my sister) on long car trips to family reunions and such - but this vividly brings it all back again. My respect for Boulet continues to rise!
posted by Greg_Ace at 6:28 PM on October 8, 2013


Really good. My night time drives were from my grandparent's suburb to ours but those orange lights were just the same.
posted by Cuke at 6:28 PM on October 8, 2013


This is really swell. It's the kind of thing that perfectly illustrates the potential of e-comics. This might not work the same in print. You could do it, but not like this.
posted by Toekneesan at 6:28 PM on October 8, 2013 [8 favorites]


Heh. Clearly must be Canadian - the Esso sign is evocative for me too.
posted by GuyZero at 6:29 PM on October 8, 2013 [3 favorites]


Although I suppose their are Esso stations in Europe too now that I think about it. So maybe not.
posted by GuyZero at 6:31 PM on October 8, 2013


That was just gorgeous. Absolutely agree with Miko about the sense memories. Something visceral about it all.
posted by Inkoate at 6:33 PM on October 8, 2013


Boulet is French
posted by sineater at 6:35 PM on October 8, 2013


It's basically just Esso wherever it isn't the US, I believe.
posted by DoctorFedora at 6:38 PM on October 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


Only thing missing is the thumpthump . . . thumpthump of the expansion joints on the New Jersey Turnpike.
posted by HotToddy at 6:41 PM on October 8, 2013 [14 favorites]


I had visited all the original 48 US states, Canada and Mexico by car by the age of 12 (my dad preferred epic vacations). This brings back a flood of memories...
posted by jim in austin at 6:42 PM on October 8, 2013


Clearly must be Canadian - the Esso sign is evocative for me too.

As I understand it, Esso was one of many smaller oil company brands eventually purchased by Exxon. There used to be Essos in the US as well before they were all brought under the Exxon name (Standard Oil, the Esso parent company and hence-the-name, was certainly a US company), and I can recall seeing the signs as survivals at rural gas stations in the 70s. Outside the US they didn't get rebranded Exxon.
posted by Miko at 6:48 PM on October 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


Only thing missing is the thumpthump . . . thumpthump of the expansion joints on the New Jersey Turnpike.

And briefly panicking that something was on fire before realizing it was just normal refinery stuff going on.
posted by Miko at 6:50 PM on October 8, 2013


Brilliant. Thank you.
posted by mykescipark at 6:50 PM on October 8, 2013


Wow this is great. Though how can this person have had the exact same experience as me? Wait, are my memories really mine? How can I be sure? What if they were stolen and slipped into my drink at dinner last ni...kerCHNK hisssssss

RMA reason: total phildickian collapse of the subject.
posted by kickback at 6:51 PM on October 8, 2013 [4 favorites]


Boulet here previously: 1, 2, 3, 4. His comics are a gift that just keep giving and I have been tempted to post most of the new pages he has posted so far this month:
How to Get to a Bookseller
"Okay, I'm starting tomorrow"
A subway encounter (semi-nsfw)
A flight of fancy
"Sleep Is a Little Facetious Animal"
Rythm (sic) and Blues
posted by oneswellfoop at 6:55 PM on October 8, 2013 [11 favorites]


Wow this is great. Though how can this person have had the exact same experience as me? Wait, are my memories really mine?

What really moves me about this comic is how universally true this seems to be, but how it also captures what I thought was a personal experience, like it was exactly mine. When people talk about their "safe place" in their memories, without fail one of mine is thinking about family trips and riding home in the dark. It creates a feeling of instant serenity. If it was a long trip, it would include my sister and me lying in the back of our station wagon, covered in blankets like it was a big bed, trying to fall asleep before we got home. If I faked it well enough, I could maybe even get a free carry up the stairs and into bed.
posted by SpacemanStix at 6:56 PM on October 8, 2013 [8 favorites]


Boulet here previously: 1, 2, 3, 4. His comics are a gift that just keep giving and I have been tempted to post most of the new pages he has posted so far this month:

I just discovered him through this particular strip, and his stuff is really good. He's the real deal.
posted by SpacemanStix at 7:02 PM on October 8, 2013


Thanks for posting this.
posted by carter at 7:03 PM on October 8, 2013


If I faked it well enough, I could maybe even get a free carry up the stairs and into bed.

I did this too, whenever possible. Nothing like getting carried up the stairs by your father, the strongest man in the world.
posted by duvatney at 7:05 PM on October 8, 2013 [11 favorites]


And like a ten minute dream in the passenger seat
While the world was flying by
I haven't been gone very long
But it feels like a lifetime

posted by The Deej at 7:09 PM on October 8, 2013


That was amazing. I especially liked to watch raindrops race each other down the windows.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 7:18 PM on October 8, 2013 [15 favorites]


A couple of Boulet's 24 hour comics:

http://english.bouletcorp.com/2013/06/30/pirates/
http://english.bouletcorp.com/2012/02/01/darkness/

Infinite canvas pixel comic:

http://english.bouletcorp.com/2013/08/02/the-long-journey/

A video of him drawing One Piece fanart:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fWaTn71JLNc
posted by Quart at 7:20 PM on October 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


Awesome.
posted by signal at 7:31 PM on October 8, 2013


The animation here is just great. It reminded me a bit of the animated panel look that Zac Gorman uses in Magical Game Time, sometimes subtlely, sometimes for atmosphere and lighting, and sometimes for comedy.
posted by knuckle tattoos at 7:34 PM on October 8, 2013


I used to sleep in the cargo area behind the back seat above the engine in my dad's Beetle, because there were three kids and two adults. Hard to imagine what would happen to a parent who did that now.

Oh, and we had Esso stations in New Jersey when I was a kid until they all changed to Exxon.
posted by octothorpe at 7:48 PM on October 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


I don't know why, but if i'm a passenger in a car for more than 10-15 minutes, I'm sleeping the sleep of the dead. My childhood car trip would have skipped all the middle panels full of romantic sense-memories and jumped straight from getting in the car...zzzzzzzz...we're home!
posted by billyfleetwood at 7:49 PM on October 8, 2013


I especially liked to watch raindrops race each other down the windows.

Me too. I had a game I would play in my mind where the drops were horses in a corral, and they would start running and try to join up with other "horses" into bigger drops, and run away.
posted by Miko at 8:09 PM on October 8, 2013 [5 favorites]


He left out the part where you get woken by the familiar feel of your driveway, but you try to pretend to still be asleep so your parents will carry you inside, but for some reason you think the way to fake sleeping is to not be visibly breathing, so you take tiny, imperceptible breaths and can't figure out why your parents are never fooled. But sometimes they carry you in anyway.
posted by straight at 8:15 PM on October 8, 2013 [10 favorites]


Yes! Faking not not having woken up so my dad would carry me in to the house.
Also, those summers we would spend three weeks traveling around some part of the US with the trailer. And to get an early start on a long driving day, My dad would carry us in ur sleeping bags from the trailer to the SUV. My brother and I would each be seatbelted, laying down in our seeping bags, into our own row.
Eventually we'd wake up when it got too hot to be in the bag (summer in the desert, pulling the trailer, meant running the heat sometimes so the car wouldn't overheat) and the summer southwestern sun was shining way too bright. And then we'd eat those sticky, oversweet, store bought cinnamon buns that we were never allowed to have.
Oh, man, nostalgia is the best.
posted by atomicstone at 8:17 PM on October 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


When I turned seven, my family drove to Florida. My mother and my older brother could sleep, but I was awake for the entire ten hour journey. I have never in my life fell asleep in a car, train, or airplane. I just can't.

I remember watching endless neon chevrons passing before us on the street on the long drive back from my grandfather's house. I remember seeing a hot air balloon in the back window on the way back from Guelph, Ontario. I remember the endless flickering streetlights, and trying impossibly to read by them.

The conversation in the front seats that faded blissfully into a murmur while I napped on the back seat, half-awake, on the journey to see my grandfather. Then there's the trip to visit my (since deceased) family on the St. Lawrence River in Quebec. Endless highways and then strangely comforting gravel roads surrounded by trees, where the rocks popped under the tires and clicked against the windshield. No wonder I could never sleep. This feeling of open wonder at seeing the great river, and a kid's imagination about the future, the woods, and the open sea.

A flood of memories, as someone else mentioned. Awesome site.
posted by quiet earth at 8:25 PM on October 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


I was concerned this wouldn't be perfect. But it was perfect!
posted by threeants at 8:29 PM on October 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


I think part of the power of the dozing-in-a-night-car-as-a-child feeling is that sense of having completely ceded all control to people you trust infinitely, letting your guard down and allowing you to fully release whatever ephemeral problems were bothering you. That's something that's pretty darn impossible to reclaim as an adult, except in memories.
posted by threeants at 8:32 PM on October 8, 2013 [17 favorites]


I like the peace
In the backseat
I don't have to drive
I don't have to speak
I can watch the countryside
And I can fall asleep
posted by cacofonie at 8:40 PM on October 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


Someone suggested listening to this as you read the comic. It comes with presets over on the right for different levels of noise.
posted by SpacemanStix at 8:54 PM on October 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


Yeah, that brings back memories all right! For me there were a lot of tree branches too, blocking out the moon and the stars as they reached towards their light, but they never reached what they were grasping for because all of a sudden the silvery lights would be back, unharmed.
posted by Athanassiel at 9:26 PM on October 8, 2013


To me, as I looked out and up through the side windows, the trees looked like a tunnel, limitless and dark except for the section directly above that the backwash from the headlights illuminated briefly as we hummed past.
posted by Greg_Ace at 9:45 PM on October 8, 2013


As far as things to listen to:

Here's a scene: You're in the back seat laying down
The windows wrap around to the sound of the travel and the engine
All you hear is time stand still in travel
And feel such peace and absolute
The stillness still that doesn't end
But slowly drifts into sleep
The stars are the greatest thing you've ever seen
And they're there for you
For you alone you are the everything
posted by Miko at 9:47 PM on October 8, 2013 [4 favorites]


Very nice indeed. I know this is a comic and entertainment and all, but I clicked the link hoping he'd spend more time on the weirdo patterns that the streetlights made on the backseat at night. He touched on it, but there was a definite pattern and seeming acceleration and deceleration to the motion of the light. It's neat to consider what young minds notice.
posted by readyfreddy at 9:58 PM on October 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


That is great, thanks for posting it. Even now when I make the turn off the last stretch of highway up onto the surface road that led to our house, I love looking up into the pattern of tree branches closing in, which is totally distinctive of that one exit.
posted by LobsterMitten at 10:31 PM on October 8, 2013


Every time my kids do the pretend-to-be-asleep thing, I pretend not to notice and carry them in and put them in bed.

This comic was lovely and has already been much forwarded.
posted by Harald74 at 12:10 AM on October 9, 2013 [5 favorites]


threeants: "I think part of the power of the dozing-in-a-night-car-as-a-child feeling is that sense of having completely ceded all control to people you trust infinitely, letting your guard down and allowing you to fully release whatever ephemeral problems were bothering you. That's something that's pretty darn impossible to reclaim as an adult, except in memories."

My father was the most infuriating driving teacher. His constant state of panic and worry that I would crash the car and kill us all was infectious, leaving me a quivering mess who would instantly forget how to drive the moment he got in next to me. Still kind of does, though now I can make vague threats of asking him to leave the car.

A few months after I had received my licence, we drove out for a longish trip. Halfway through he asked me to stop the car and allow him to switch seats with my mom. Soon after we were on the road again, he stretched out on the back seat and fell asleep. It was the moment I knew he finally trusted my driving skills.
posted by vanar sena at 12:56 AM on October 9, 2013


Hypnagogia was my gateway drug.
posted by Drexen at 2:15 AM on October 9, 2013 [4 favorites]


This makes me sad that my family never had a car when I was a kid. Nice comic.
posted by Decani at 3:26 AM on October 9, 2013


So my wife does not like being a passenger and unless there is a blizzard or massive thunderstorm, I'm only good for about two hours of driving before it get's really boring to me and I start to get sleepy. (Yay ADD.) As a result, this seems a lot like my memory of traveling to about half the SCA events we've gone to in the past 20 years.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 5:14 AM on October 9, 2013


Come to think about it, I don't think that I've slept in a car in forty years. I've easily driven a car for 300,000 miles over the last thirty years but I doubt that I've been a passenger for more than 500 of those. I always end up as the designated driver somehow.
posted by octothorpe at 6:33 AM on October 9, 2013


I have never been able to sleep sitting up. Like one of those old dolls with the weighed eyelids that stay open until you gently lay the doll down, I always just fall into a half-place, where the undercurrents of the passing road start bleeding out of the subconscious and coloring the passing landscapes.

For me, the open road will always be Route 301, the old way south, and the route from this nowhere in the middle of somewhere to Thomson, Georgia, my father's nowhere, and that sensation of being suspended between familiar places is consistent. As a child, I'd hunker down, all the way at the back of our immense silver and purple Suburban, having built a bivouac behind the back seat with suitcases and blankets, and at night, when the conversation died down to just the gentle burble of my parents talking in a near-whisper, miles ahead of me, and the crackling voices of local AM radio stations and the kind of microscopic, provincial programming that has long since disappeared.

I'd read whenever a truck was behind us, holding Bradbury up into the shaky light, and I'd listen to my brother snoring gently, watch my sister making endless ropes of finger crotchet, and watch the moon skimming the strange evergreen forests between breathtaking immense open fields of cotton lit by just the grey moonlight, and I would find myself lost in the fiction of it all.

I learned to tell stories by aping my parents and my family, but I learned to do it well from that empty space between worlds, when I would just tell myself the same stories over and over, always looking for the best route between ideas.

Most of the people are gone, and most of the places we went are gone, too. People died, houses were sold, possessions dispersed. Most of the motels where we finally pulled in for the nights as my mother's tone changed to insistence against my father's determination to make time are now broken open like eggs, old cabin rooms fallen off their foundation posts and slumping sidelong into the sandy ground in South Carolina. The old stretch of causeway almost at the border to Georgia is still there, off the road in the woods, a shadow of pilings and concrete railings subsuming into trees and kudzu and unstoppable green.

Lately, even the welcome center that I remember being new and futuristic and amazing is now shuttered, starting its own slide into the past. I stop there anyway, cup my hands against the hazy plate glass, and peer inside, then slip around to urinate beside the rusting propane tank there.

I skipped the trip last year, overwhelmed by the online presence of cousins joyfully holding up chicken sandwiches in support of the kind of straitjacketed family that does not reflect the life of all of their kin, and I did not want to hear about the president and tyranny, so I stayed home for the holiday. It was a pyrrhic victory, even if the lasagne florentine I prepared was the most sublime one I've yet achieved. The road just calls me.

I try to convey what it is, but even at my best, it is just a fragment.

Several years ago, I duct-taped a cheap camera to a broom, wedged it behind the seat of my ludicrous tiny red roadster, and made a shaky video to try to capture the spirit of the rideā€”the way it moves in sinuous waves like the flocks of starlings down there, the way it chases and gets chased, the way that everything else in the world ceases to matter and I, alone, am exactly there and nowhere else. There is something in all the alien landscapes, all the little house where people I'll never meet sit and talk over dinner, inner monologues in the heads of the men who ride those rusty tractors across the fields, and the road like a ribbon that ties the whole country together.

The old motel signs merge with oxygen, brilliant space-age spears and chevrons with light bulbs on stalks turning brown and slumping off their posts, but it is all still there, laid up in the thoughts that sustain me when life is at its most mundane.
posted by sonascope at 6:48 AM on October 9, 2013 [16 favorites]


this is great, one of my favorite posts of the year.

his panel about the gas station reminds me of dag's story from generation-x. funny, instead of gasoline smelling like the future, now it smells like the past to me.
posted by entropicamericana at 7:40 AM on October 9, 2013


Sonascope, that was straight-up beautiful. No surprise that Bradbury played a part in your formation as a writer.
posted by jbickers at 7:49 AM on October 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


To really complete the picture for me it would have to include the complete lack of seat-belts, bench seating, lousy am radio reception and returning from the pizza parlour (Mother's Pizza in my case) with the stained glass fixtures, frosted mugs and cola jugs for the kids and a carafe of wine for the parents.
posted by srboisvert at 9:05 AM on October 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


And, very occasionally, the murmured exchange between the front seats. That one was big for me. At the same time it seemed so distant and so close.
posted by forgetful snow at 10:33 AM on October 9, 2013 [5 favorites]


I would stand a moment outside looking at the stars and finally go inside.

I still do this, whether I'm the driver or not. Not particularly satisfying in the middle of a big city, I'll admit. But whenever I go see my parents out in the suburbs and arrive at night, I stand in the driveway for a moment just looking up at the stars, listening to the quiet of a post-dinner neighborhood. It is inexpressibly comforting.
posted by yasaman at 12:34 PM on October 9, 2013 [3 favorites]


When we'd go for nighttime rides in the Illinois countryside, it was the closest thing possible to space travel; out where there were so few lights that there was just this darkness that we were rushing through, with the occasional farmhouse with its one lonely light like a planet. And, of course, the stars overhead, never so numerous as when we were away from all the city lights.

Do you remember that enormous moon in Joe Versus the Volcano? I saw that moon, when I was a kid. It was probably because I dreamt it, and the distinction between dreaming and waking was much less when I was young. It was almost like we were driving to it. Our parents took us on these nighttime drives to calm us down before bed, and it worked, because the vast depths of the night were awesome in the most literal sense of the word.
posted by Halloween Jack at 10:07 PM on October 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


Loved the comic. For me, it brings back memories of falling asleep with my head on my mothers lap while we were driving (I sat between my parents as our car had a bench seat in front).

My mother would be talking to my father as they drove, and the combination of the hum of the car and my mothers muffled voice through the ear that was resting on her lap was possibly the most comforting and relaxing sensation that I have ever experienced. I often wonder if it is similar to the sound you hear when in the womb?
posted by bakery at 9:53 PM on October 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


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