I've said for the longest time that racing has been the driving force to get me to where I am today. If you've followed my blog from the beginning you'll know I've had a countless number of blogs from my travels across the country working events for USAC and SKUSA. Some of these stories sometimes pop up in presentations, but while I mention them as "stories" they are much more than that as I experienced on Saturday evening.
I take deep pride in my work in the flag stand and there aren't many things in life that operate as fast as my mind usually operates but working the USAC .25 series offers me a chance to truly work at full speed. It's awesome and I wish you could get a sense of just how amazingly difficult and intense it is to work just one race in a day much less the normal 30+ to sometimes even 50 in a day. I put my heart and soul into it and at the end of a day I am emotionally, and often times physically, drained. Which all this leads to moments of normality afterwards.
From where I was when I began with USAC in 2010 to where I am now is almost so great that to make any sort of comparison would be futile. However, I still feel a general social divide in life and often wonder what life is like on that other side of the proverbial wall, but Saturday night when the racing was over I got a glimpse.
When I began flagging these national events I'd rarely go out to eat with a large group. Or a small group for that matter as I preferred to be alone. Times have changed, as well as my ability to handle these situations, and when the race day was over we went to an Applebees where it just happened to be karaoke night. Let me stop your line of thinking right there and say that no, I did not get up in front of a crowd and sing.
Our seats were right by the bar area and from where I was seated I could see right to where whomever wanted to show their singing skills (or lack thereof) would be singing. I had never witnessed a karaoke night but it was an oddly unique, and normal experience for myself. I often have a hard time partaking in the concept of a "shared experience" but when some of these "singers" came up all were on equal footing doing everything they could not to laugh. (Is it rude to laugh?) Despite some of the cringe-worthy performances each singer always got a round of applause for all in the bar area and there was one singer who quickly became a crowd favorite as he'd often rip out a harmonica during his songs.
I don't remember what blog post it was, I think it was somewhere in 2010, that I said I often wondered what normal (whatever normal is) people do on a weekend evening and sitting there, at that Applebees in Phoenix, I think I was getting a glimpse. At our table we were somewhat engrossed in our own little world talking about racing which made the environment safe (I would not have been in there otherwise with the loud music... it was on the brink of my threshold) and yet at the same time I was witnessing this apparently normal weekend event playing out in front of me. It didn't matter if a person was 20, or 70, dressed like a biker or a cowboy, or could sing like a platinum singing artist or were completely tone-deaf as each singer could a rowdy round of applause after each song. The bar area in front of me was like a world upon itself where it was like all were one in that they were going to have a great time and nothing was going to stop them.
While I did get that glimpse of what I perceived to be normality I'm sure that's the closest I'll ever get to that type of environment. I'd never feel comfortable in such a place and I was perfectly content being just outside the realm of this karaoke zone, but there was something oddly fascinating watching people be free. I don't know, perhaps that entire room had too much to drink, but those that were singing, from what I was observing, were not drinking. These were people that were out to have a good time and a good time is exactly what they were having. As I watched I did envy the ability to simply let go because I don't have that. I can be joking, but I'm mainly focused and overly deep in thought. I can't simply let go and here's the thing; I don't think I'd want to. Despite my envy of what was playing out in front of me I am perfectly happy being a bystander to such an event because I am who I am and I'm happy with that. Sure, I might be missing out on the "fun" I was seeing, but my brain works differently. My fun comes it keeping track of 12 race cars doing six second laps. My fun comes in planning my blog, or thinking of new examples to use in presentations. I did get a glimpse of what appeared to be normality, but I'm happy with my state of normal as well. I might, from time to time, envy the normality I witness around me but I am much more content now than I used to be in who I am and the environments that make me feel normal and happy.