For someone who loves driving, I am notoriously bad at recognizing landmarks. It’s embarrassing, really. Ex-girlfriends have raised many an eyebrow, astonished at how I could fail to notice — even though “we’ve passed by a thousand times” — that a new upscale condo complex has sprouted up where the old Cafe Luna had once been. That’s because I’m looking at cars, and they are have this tendency to not stay in one place.
I may not notice the vacant lot morphing into a row of boutiques on a street I pass every day, but I’ll never forget that one time when I came across a Toyota Publica in Shibuya. January 2004, just up the hill from the busiest intersection in the world. Good luck finding parking within a 20 mile radius of Tokyo’s teeming nightlife hub, but somehow that UP20 had snaked one. Its owner had parallel parked right there on the main drag, an anachronism among hordes of CNG taxis and seizure-inducing neon pulses.
I didn’t even remember taking a picture of it, but going through old photos over the holidays turned it up. Sure, it’s great to see rows of nostalgics at a show like the New Year Meeting, but catching one in the wild sears it into memory. As for where I was headed that night… I can’t for the life of me recall.