When I graduated from uni, I left Chico and moved back to my hometown of Folsom. The internet was taking off, but MySpace and Facebook were far in the future. I got into watching NASCAR, and soon, I was chatting with people on a message board for Dale Jr. fans. Before I quite new it, I had a core group of NASCAR friends, and we've been in touch with each other for over a decade now.
As these things go, some of those friendships have strengthened and others have faltered. A few years ago, frustrated by a seeming lack of any common ground, and by the attitude of one lady in particular, I "un-friended" two of these NASCAR ladies on Facebook, and quit the little group we'd formed there. I heard, later, from others, that it had generated some hurt, some heated language directed at me, but I felt like I'd done what I needed to do.
Fast-forward to this year, and one of those two ladies was facing the rapid decline in her mother's health, and then, sadly, her passing. Though I hadn't communicated with her in ages, I left a comment on a mutual friend's post about how sorry I was for her loss. And thus began a rebuilding, and my coming back to the fold of our little NASCAR group. Turns out, the real instigator of most of the drama had finally been seen for what she was, and things were once again peaceful.
I'm thankful for my NASCAR ladies--they've seen me through 12 years of craziness--basically my entire adulthood, post-college. They cheered for me when I moved to England, they worried about me when London was bombed. We've exchanged Christmas cards for years now, and many of us have met in person. The hope is that next year, we can all convene in one place for a weekend of fun.
We've watched children grow up through pictures, and we've sent prayers and good luck wishes for job interviews, moves, relationships, and everything in between. Most of us don't pay as much attention to NASCAR--the hobby that brought us all together--as we used to, but we still have a common bond. There's something special in that.