15 Aug A Silver 1981 Nissan Maxima | my personal liberator
One of my best friends in high school and college was my car, a 1981 Nissan Maxima. It ran on diesel fuel and had quite a large engine. The front end stuck out quite a bit and had a short trunk. It was silver and looked like a long rectangle on wheels. Whenever I left a door open or the lights on, some woman would speak to me through the speakers that I had a door ajar or had left my lights on. She was quite nice to have around. The center console housed all the window and lock controls. This eventually broke and sunk into the console housing unit, where it lived for the rest of the car’s existence. I had to reach in and operate the windows from there.
The car would glide down the highway like a couch on wheels. It was a very comfortable ride and was made even more enjoyable by the sound system I had installed, which I’ll get to in a bit. One of its more endearing qualities and one that always got a rise out of my friends, was its ability to unload a cloud of black smoke onto the car behind me. If someone was riding my ass, I would just slow a bit, then floor it, providing them with a storm cloud as though I were driving the Batmobile. Some friends enjoyed this much more than others and always egged me on for it.
I have always been into electronics and good sound systems. I’m not sure where that comes from in my life, but it seems like it’s just always been there. Slowly I built a nice system into this car. Nothing out of this world, but decent enough to bring loudness and decent bass. I never did install any subwoofers, which I would have liked, but I had a 400 watt amplifier, two 6 by 9s in the back and two 6 inch Kenwoods in the front. I eventually ran CDs through the speaker by using a portable CD player that could be converted through the tape deck. I would always keep my Case Logic CD case with me that held 100 CDs. It was like some sort of moving DJ machine. I loved it. It was my home. I drove everywhere. I always drove my friends. I never rode. I wanted the control, both of the car, and of what we listened to. No one seemed to mind.
As time went by the speakers started to weaken and make farting noises from blaring the likes of Rage Against the Machine, Pantera, Beastie Boys, Ministry, Nirvana, and a slew of other 90s grunge. 90s grunge opened me up musically for the first time in my life. Before that I never liked 80s music so I listened to rap. I’ll always appreciate rap music, still do, but I was in need of something that spoke my language even more, and as an angry teenager 90s grunge couldn’t have come at a better time. I would often pull away enraged from the house of a girl who strung me around like an idiot and the only thing that helped was blaring Pantera. Music allowed my anger to be felt and expressed and it was extremely necessary. Eventually this anger also allowed me to become a better soccer player as I eventually just gave up caring what my coach thought. My anger fuelled a voice inside of me that had been laid dormant for years. As I write this, I can even feel the freedom I felt as I drove around, exploring this new music and new emotional expression. Although I may have seem depressed and angry to others, I felt liberated in many ways.
Thinking back on my 1981 Nissan Maxima, which at that point was really kind of an ugly car (this would have been around 1994-1997 I think), it was interesting to me how many of my friends loved my car. Even people I didn’t see as frequently would express their enjoyment. “Dude, I love this car.” Why did they like it so much? Because we had fun and I treated it as special as any of them. It was one of us and it played great music. It took us from place to place, party to party, the beach, the city, camping, everywhere, always with the intention of having a good time, not just at our destination but on the way.
There are many more stories to go with this car but I’m not ready to tell them, to fully expose all I’ve done and experienced in my life. Someday I will. Many are funny, some probably illegal, and others just plain stupid. It’s amazing the stupid things you’re willing to do as a youth. I felt less afraid back then. I’m older and yet I live in so much more fear then I did back then. I think as an adolescent one begins to step away from the comforts of home and wants to rush into battle, to challenge norms, to challenge one’s self, to challenge death, but the adolescent mind cannot yet fully grasp death and extinction in its fullest — the safety net is still too close.
I would pay a lot of money, that I would have to borrow because I’m poor, to have a joyride in my 1981 Nissan Maxima, blaring Pearl Jam, riding down the road with the largest sunroof I’ve ever seen opened to the max, windows down, gliding down the highway, singing at the top of my lungs.