In which someone breaks my heart.
But in a good way, though this weekend was certainly filled with some bad heartbreaks as well. Wait, what? What was I doing on Saturday? There seems to be a large gap in my memory…
I digress. Tonight I came back from a 3 day trip up to NorCal with my school’s marching band, and while the actual football event didn’t go the way I (and certainly many, many others) was hoping it would, the overall trip experience managed to wipe away my tears and strengthen my convictions about this band, this team, this school, everything.
Because while the ups and downs of the football season are one part of being a member of the band, another part comes from the kind of people that participate in that school spirit culture, and more specifically, our school spirit culture.
Which brings me to the good heartbreak. Our Weekender trip runs from L.A. to S.F., which is a damn long bus ride. One of the ways to break the tedium is to have people tell jokes and stories on the mic at the front of the bus. These are usually politically incorrect and rowdy affairs, but for about an hour, one of our section freshmen, Patrick, told all of the people on our bus an abridged version of his life story. The decision to keep him on the mic started off kind of as a joke in itself, because he’s one of those people who’s delightfully unaware of his adorable nature, but it quickly became the heartwarming highlight of the entire trip.
Because Patrick is one of those personalities with no pretensions, who wears his passions on his sleeves and isn’t afraid to wax poetic when someone asks him about them. And listening to this recent Jupiter, Florida transplant talk about “Star Trek” and marching band and offensive humor and answer questions candidly, tongue-in-cheek, roguishly yet sheepishly—it’s refreshing, to be around someone who so obviously wants to make good and whose enthusiasm about being in this time and place is so contagious.
It puts things in perspective. Band is one of those experiences that can quickly become too demanding too fast; I catch myself thinking “Why am I doing this?!” a lot, between the crack-of-dawn Saturday morning practices and the carving out of my weekly schedule and various other rituals, but in the end, I do it.
What Patrick did during his time on the mic was put voice to the “why”: I’m here because I know what I want from myself and from the world in return, and I know how I’m going to have to work to get there, and being in band is helping me get there along the way.
Because when I’m at practice, I don’t have to think about anything other than drill and music. Because when I’m with the people in my section, I don’t have to think about anything other than having a good time. Because when I’m on the field, I don’t have to think about anything other than the hammering in my heart and the anticipation of muscle memory.
And I like to think that’s the draw. A friend of mine once complained that band takes over my life, and it’s true, it’s a lot of time and effort on my part. But oh, the draw… the people in band, whether charming or dickish or anywhere in between, all have that Patrick-like earnestness in their heart of hearts. We cheer, we cry, we rise and fall and get up and fight on. It’s all there is; it’s all there ever is.
So when I finally leave this place, it’ll be with sadness, but also joy—to have been part of something so special, if only for a little moment in the grand stretch of time. Whatever else happens,
I know what I know, I know what I know…