Stop. Savor it. Because it doesn’t last.
Except, this year, I think this feeling might just carry on (the fight song) (my wayward son) (or just, as it were, “carry on”).
Seven days, countless hours. Two of my roommates moved in and I met them for the first time in months while covered in turf and sun-baked redness. I watched grass and Cromwell swirl down the shower drain as I tilted my head back and let the water wash over me, over the nut brown skin and wretched pores and limp, sweaty hair. My legs ache, my feet ache, the skin on my right pinky is rubbed raw from where it hooks through the little brass loop on my horn, the skin on my left palm is still taut and tortured from when we had to march from the Coliseum practice field to Cromwell while carrying our cases.
I’m a sophomore in my school’s marching band now, and the implications of that, that notion of class, are still new to me. The freshmen class—all 7 of them, at last count—is assembled, and while they’ve got some work to do, I look at them and marvel at how far they’ve come, how silly and startled I was when I was them and how much they’ve managed to pull themselves together, their marching and their music and their social bonds, both with each other and with the other members of the section.
It seems so strange to me, that they’ve managed to make it happen, that somehow everyone who goes through the marching band process makes it happen. Of course it’s easier for some than others, but in the end, it’s the same bullshit turning into the same unbelievable magic, the same thrill of doing a Conquest bow for the very first time or hearing the low brass kick in during the national anthem or yelling obscenities during cadence. ESFD, motherfuckers. But it’s all done to make us better, to make the band better, to make something united out of 300+ people, to make heads turn and necks crane and feet stop.
I get to be the one yelling at other people now, and while that’s part of the difference between this year and last year’s band camp, a lot of the differences also have to do with my attitude. Band was still a mystery to me last year, but while I haven’t totally figured it out, it’s a lot clearer to me now that camaraderie matters, that the social ties forged in the group matter just as much as what’s happening on the field. I am better friends with the people in my section and in my class. I know more people from different sections and different classes. I am confident enough in my playing ability to freely admit my mistakes, except when I’m trying not to Get Caught.
Band isn’t a beast to be feared, so what was I so afraid of last year? Yeah, I was just learning how to march and play an instrument I barely knew existed before, but hey, a couple of the freshmen are doing that and they’re doing fine, swell actually, so why wasn’t I more like them when I was them? But alas, now is not the time to dwell on that, is it? What I do know for a fact is that there are kindred spirits to be found amongst them, and that the closeness that I felt with the section last year is only going to double, triple, quadruple amongst this new group.
I am more grounded in my endeavor, and so I seek to ground myself further. This is not the end-all be-all of my school year, but as a beginning sign, I’d say that band camp is setting a fantastic (or glorious, which seems to be this year’s buzz word) precedent for everything else that’s to come.
(Image: The Old Maple Tree Whispered To Her That Everything Would Be Okay by Rebecca Mock)