The definition of camaraderie, taken from dictionary.com, is as follows:
I remember when I first started meeting other VW owners in 2011. Honestly, being in my own little bubble at that time, I thought that the VW community that I know today didn’t, and couldn’t, exist. I had started racing that year and got involved with that group of people. But, to me, a local VW community just didn’t seem possible. However, the very first VW owner I met and got to know them changed that completely.
At the Cherry Hill Mall sometime in mid-2011, I met a guy named Patrich, who had a Mk6 GTI. It was the two of us in a parking lot. But, who knew that that particular moment, insignificant as I felt it was (I was pissed more people didn’t show up) would have such a tremendous impact on me, because of what it would start.
A group of people who share a common interest in something, whatever that is, eventually develop this “familiarity” and “trust.” The members of the group can come from any sort of background (racial, financial, educational, etc), have different upbringings and things each likes. But, that bond around a single common thing can transcend pretty much most of, if not all, these differences.
Some of the people that I met during some of the organized meets back then (in the same Mt. Laurel, NJ location) are still around today. This includes Patrich (a salute to you, sir, for serving our country – he is currently deployed right now), Johny (I never realised how young you were, and still are) and Dave Bonell (who re-joined us in 2013).
As mentioned, the meets organized by Patrich and myself were rag-tag efforts. We would occasionally get a decent turnout some Thursday nights, but for the most part, it didn’t really grow. But, when I returned in May of 2012, things had flipped 180 degrees. The meet had a whole new look and feel; an identity, if you will. What was missing from both of our initial attempts had been added.
I had quite severe apprehension about pretty much every new person that came out to the meet from that point on. I remember sticking with those I knew and being quite shy about meeting the others. It took quite a bit of courage and effort to do so, but, looking back on it, I openly think about why I felt that way. I think those still being in my life to this day, almost 2 years later only makes me laugh at how timid I was.
In those 2 years, I think pretty much everyone has seen my good, and for some, unfortunately, my bad side. While I’m a nice and pleasant person a majority of the time, I’ve always had anger management problems as far back as I can remember. Because I’ve always been a perfectionist with everything I do, I got easily frustrated and angry when things don’t go right. When that happened, instead of venting about it, I let it sit and smolder inside, which resulted in outbursts that I’m embarrassed about. I felt my main reason for not expressing those feelings was that I didn’t want to waste people’s time. I thought that people wouldn’t want to hear about my problems; and who would, really, when we all have our own issues to deal with on a daily basis?
I think I’ve gotten better at not holding feelings of anger and frustration in over the time I’ve been with this group, but I still struggle. I have moments where I question whether I really want to say what’s on my mind, because of past incidents where doing that got me into trouble. But, actually having true friends who are willing to listen when I need to vent is something that has comforted me. Frankly, I still can’t understand how everyone I’ve met the last two years still actually gives a shit about me.
I guess the word that I started this whole thing out with – camaraderie – really is present amoungst all of us, and it goes beyond just cars.
I can’t imagine myself meeting and getting to know a better group of people than the guys and gals of Fahrenhart. I’ve been accepted, flaws and all, somehow. Even doing something that 99% of the group doesn’t do – racing – didn’t affect how I was perceived. In fact, I think it probably gained me a few brownie points, really.
To the group – thank you.
To those of you who read this and wonder if you should join up with us, or even come to a meet – don’t question it, just do it. You will not regret it.