Last weekend was, for many, the second weekend in August. For anyone in the Twin Tiers region of New York, specifically the southern portion of Seneca Lake, last weekend was also NASCAR.
I'm not normally a NASCAR fan. I just don't see the point of driving in a circle turning only one way. But when they come to WGI? That takes true driving. The wheel goes both directions - it's a road course - and I will happily sit down and spend three hours of my life watching about 40 high horsepowered vehicles burn off copious amounts of fossil fuel. However, I rarely actually get to watch it.
My family has been part of the Grange organization for years. As a way to "make money" in which to pay the bills for the building, they've also been volunteering at WGI since, I believe, the early '80s. I spent many a NASCAR weekend up there in a food stand, pulling sodas with my cousins before the track transitioned to selling bottles instead of cups. Though we got out of the food stand a couple years ago, we still volunteer. This time we sell souvenirs.
I like to volunteer. I happily spent nearly two full winters volunteering at my local library during Saturday mornings and weekday evenings, and I did many hours of service in high school and college. I went on a week-long service trip to Virginia for two Spring Breaks, and I genuinely just enjoy helping others. So when Mom asked me if I would come back that weekend and help them out, of course I said yes.
Many of you know I had open heart surgery last summer (we're coming up on a year!) and that I have a fairly substantial scar smack dab in the middle of my upper chest. Really the only time it's not visible is if I'm wearing a t-shirt and sweatshirt. Other types of clothing usually mean the very top portion is showing. This doesn't bother me; I'm rather fond of my scar. It's a part of me.
Which is why it kind of caught me off guard when an older gentlemen, who was looking at some stickers last weekend, noticed it and, rather quietly said, "You've had open heart surgery, haven't you?"
To which I replied yes. Mom added we were coming up on a year. Turns out, he had had open heart surgery, too. He'd recognized the size, placement, and shape of the scar for what it was.
That's the moment that I kind of realized I was in a sort of club with everyone else who had ever had such a procedure done. Much like I am as a writer, I'm now part of a larger community that's been through something monumental and traumatic. It's a really awesome thing to know someone else has been through exactly what you have, and they, like you, have come out on the other side, too.
All in all, it was one of my favorite experiences from last weekend, and certainly a conversation that will stick with me for a while.