Ode to the Sports Car of My 20s

Man I loved that car. It was beautiful. It was fast. It was fun.

File Under: Memoir

I didn’t get rid of my sports car because I was having kids.

When I was 23, I bought a sports car. At the time, it didn’t seem like a totally absurd thing – it wasn’t like I was buying a Porsche or Ferrari. In the course of shopping for a new car – a very reasonable thing – I ended up test driving a Nissan 350z. Silver. Six-speed manual transmission. 287 horsepower. Two seater. Throaty idle, crazy acceleration, big wide tires. And, for better or worse, the whim became mine. I named him “Bruce.”

Man I loved that car. It was beautiful. It was fast. It was fun. But I didn’t give it up because of kids. It was just time. I had long commute in traffic and it wasn’t fun to drive a manual transmission on the 405 in Los Angeles in the middle of rush hour. At least that was my rationale at the time. And, if you look at the timing, that bit of mental gymnastics holds up: I sold my Z in March of 2010 and my first child wasn’t born until May 2011. See? More than a year apart. I could show that timeline to anyone and it would hold up. Clearly it was not a case of guy-sells-sports-car-because-car-seat-won’t-fit.

But as I think about it now, the father of two amazing kids who have changed my life in new, crazy, and wonderful ways I could never have imagined back then, it feels like enough time has passed to admit the truth: it was because of kids. But not because the birth of my son was imminent and it was the practical thing to do, but because it was one of my first steps into what the possibility of fatherhood could hold.

In part, I think I didn’t want to hold a grudge that any actual child of mine had forced me to give up that amazing car. It had to be my choice, not out of desperation or force, but an offering made of my own free will, a gentle nod towards the idea of fatherhood. My wife and I had started talking about the idea of having children, and even as an idea, it would mean that a two seater simply wouldn’t work anymore.

And so it was time. I said goodbye to Bruce, bought a Prius (admittedly, it was an exciting prospect to spend half as much money on gas), and continued the conversation about having kids. Eventually, it went from idea to reality, and I don’t know that I’ve ever once regretted that decision or felt like it was any kind of trade off. Although I guess it was; it was trading my life of sometimes selfish, self-centered, and rash choices for a life that was no longer just about me, but about the family that I could create, not forgetting about or losing myself, but carefully considering my role and my choices in a broader context that affected more lives than just my own. And it was totally worth it.

Heath Watenmaker

Rabbi Heath Watenmaker serves as associate rabbi at Congregation Beth Am in Los Altos Hills, California. In addition to his rabbinical degree, he holds a Masters in Social Work from USC (where he also earned a BA in English) and a Masters in Jewish Communal Service from HUC. Originally from Southern California, Heath and and his wife, Amy, are proud parents of a son, Ilan, and daughter, Cayla.