My sister took this picture of me outside of Quince Cafe in Berkeley, California in 2018. That’s my black and gold special edition 1981 Datsun 280zx, which I loved. It was in near-mint condition and barely had over 100k miles on it. I drove that thing real fast all over the Bay Area, mostly at night, with the interior lit up dimly by the orange gauges. And every other Friday I took it to the carwash and sprayed it down and waxed it.

Sometimes people would come up to me in parking lots and say, “I had one of those in high school,” or, “My boyfriend drove one of those in high school.” And so on. It was a sort of cheap Japanese sports car, so I guess even a high school kid in the early 80s could afford one. I mean the car is basically just designed to look cool and make out in, which are two of the primary objectives of any self-respecting 80s teenager.

AND I GOTTA SAY: it really was a good make-out car. I mean, it just was! I remember picking up this teacher and taking her to a drive-in movie theater in San Jose, and we got drunk and made out during a really bad movie. It was great. And sometime later, while ripping onto 580 around midnight with this oceanographer I’d met, I remember she put her head on my shoulder and held my hand, and I thought, “Yeah dude . . .”

(Another time, this kinda crazy girl hugged and kissed my car a block away from the Wolfhound as I stood several feet away wondering at all the decisions I had made in my life that had lead me to that moment.)

It was painful to get rid of the 280zx. I had considered mothballing it somewhere, maybe in a garage in Berkeley near the Bay, but I didn’t want to pay to store it, and anyway it just would have sat there collecting dust. At that point I hadn’t intended to return to California in a permanent sense. So I sold it to the only person who contacted me about it, an army vet in the North Bay, just days before I left for Berlin in 2019. He gave me $6,500 cash and drove it home with his son without ever test driving it, which seemed insane to me. I put the money in my savings account and lived off of it while in Germany. (Three months later, the pandemic would start, and I’d blow a good chunk of that money buying a last-minute ticket back to the States before the worldwide lockdown began.)

Though yeah: As sad as it was to watch the 280zx turn right off my street and disappear forever, I did feel a sort of relief on account of knowing a big black hole for money was gone from my life. Anytime something beneath the car rattled or sounded weird, I knew I was about to throw a big wad of cash into a black hole. I was in constant fear that the it would just blow up or stop running, or else get stolen, which was not at all a slim probability in the East Bay. Not to mention filling up that massive 19-gallon tank ran me about $70 each time, and I was on a miserable publishing salary.

The Datsun 280zx was a nice to have. IN TRUTH: it made me feel cool whenever I drove it. I would only ever buy one again if I had a big pile of money, and kept it as a Weekend Car in the same way a dad does. I don’t anticipate ever having a big pile of money. And so saying, I guess the eighteen months I spent with it and the thousands of miles I put on that thing will remain a distant memory growing more distant. Maybe one day I’ll be some played-out chump missing my long-gone Datsun like those boomers who approached me and gazed sentimentally at my car in grocery store parking lots. Hopefully I’ll be dead by then. But if not: I reckon there are worse fates.