This isn’t the first time.

My lust for cars has caused problems between girlfriends and myself before. The purchase of my 1972 Le Mans was a death knell. The way that I drove my 2010 Vibe GT showed a lack of respect for her white knuckles, her feet stomping the foot well. The 1992 Thunderbird Super Coupe was a gamble and I lost. I suddenly needed her to take me to work again.

A 1980 Porsche 911 Turbo coming into view elicits a primal, visceral caveman-like noise somewhere between a grunt and a moan. Imagine a Neanderthal receiving one hell of a sexual favor. When my best friend purchased a track day event for me in a Ferrari F430, I became that horizontal, arms behind his head Neanderthal the entire car ride to the airfield. I could barely contain my excitement, a real kid with a real candy coated super car. I could touch it, would they notice if I tasted it?

These were all problems. These all caused arguments. Why did I spend $3,000 on an old car that I could just barely afford? Why do I drive fast, brake a little late and take corners hard? Why did I buy a piece of junk that broke down two months later? Why am I more excited about seeing an old beetle with a giant wing than a girl in lingerie, or nude? Why was driving a car that I’ll never afford a better gift than a camera that I can pursue my other passions with? Why cars? Why driving? Why dirt, metal, rubber, gasoline and glass? Why Mobil 1 and not Astroglide?

I am not an excitable person. I am not passionate, loud, joyful, or outwardly reactionary. When I go to concerts to see my favorite bands, I barely move to the music. When I spend eight hours straight playing a game, I in no way look as though I enjoy it. When I see one of those heart stopping gorgeous girls, those unicorns of human breeding, I will look a little but that’s it.

Girls like that may be the closest thing to an Alfa Romeo Tipo 33 Stradale in the flesh, but they will never have the same ethereal curves, the same metal handwork bruised out with hammers, the same rear end. Yes the Alfa’s, Porsche’s and Ferrari’s will never hold my hand at dinner, play games with me through the night or get drunk with me, but they give me a different rush. They give me a feeling like my heart skipping a beat over metalwork, exhaust popping and clearing my head like a bomb and my lungs recessing deeper into my chest, pulling in to make room for my heart bursting over too many skipped pulses. Is my timing off?

My past girlfriends have never understood any of this. An ex-girlfriend and I were driving to the grocery store one day when we passed an old 911 Turbo. I was driving so I slowed down, let the blood rush to her knuckles and my pants, screamed out “oh my fucking god” and turned my head until I needed to see the road in front of me. Then I used my mirrors. Later that night I opened my bedroom door to find the girl in brilliantly fitting lingerie with fabric missing from all of the right places. I smiled, said nothing and climbed in. Where was the reaction, the passion, where was the “oh my fucking god”?

I don’t know and I certainly didn’t know while trying to defend myself. I am a highly sexual person but I don’t know how to express that without, you know, doing the deed. I love music, games, photography. I don’t know how to express my love for them without taking part, but cars? Just looking at them gets me excited and seeing them in person gets me going. Climax is achieved when behind the wheel and when the flirtation of warming up the rubber and fluids is over.

I disconnect easily. People can mean everything one day and rather literally nothing the next. I can be cold like that. People hurt and change and require my attention and care, often when I don’t want to give it to them. That sounds similar to cars, but they can wait. They don’t require it right now, unless you’re on the side of the highway or broken down on a track day. But in those moments, you have the excitement of necessity, of places to go people to see, laps to finish. When people come to me, I’m usually halfway through a depressive stupor, barely struggling to feed myself more than 400 calories a day and now they need me? My Le Mans has never done that to me and it never will. If I am driving it, it is on my terms. I’m not interrupting my recovery or mood swings to drive the car, I’m not pulling myself out of bed to fix problems that I genuinely don’t care about because I care about all of its problems and they can wait. They are not immediate and I am selfish, I’m sorry, but sometimes I would rather spend $3,000 on an old car than save it, or go wide eyed for a car and dead eyed for everything else, or spend entire months completely ignoring my cars. I can get away with it, with them.

What has driven me to be the way that I am is so often the actions of other people reacting to my long periods of anti-social behavior and depression. Or am I depressed because of their actions and my sadness is the reaction?

Cars don’t make me think like this. They have manuals, diagrams. Sure, they may be insanely confusing and complicated if you’re working on vacuum and electrical systems, but it is all laid out. There may be gremlins to chase down and solve, but they’re easier to manage than a drug addiction or a child. I can look at datasheets for my vehicle and know something rather factually. There are no unanswerable variables like: how are you feeling? What are you doing? What are your goals, hopes, dreams, loves, hates, your emotions? How do you feel when you wake up, when you go to sleep? Why did your dad commit suicide? Why didn’t he leave you the Le Mans? Can you stay at your job until you retire? Can you for the next three months?

I can’t handle all of that, but I can handle my power steering going out. I can handle a repaint but I can’t handle the scars on my skin. I can handle a bushing wearing out, but I can’t handle my torn meniscus. I can handle an engine swap but I can’t handle a heart attack. I can handle an achingly gorgeous vehicle, but girls like that just make my heart sink. I can have as many cars as I can afford, but I can pretty much only have one girlfriend.

Cars just get a better reaction out of me when most people don’t get anything at all. There is no reason for me to ever detach from cars and so my love for them just grows and grows.