Band! I was standing out on my porch this morning, deep in thought and filing my nails (got to keep them short after years of piano playing) when I heard some distant rhythmic pounding. It almost sounded like a drumline warmup from back in my marching band days. Then I heard the sound of brass playing “C, B, C, B-flat, C, A….” and I realized that it was in fact a marching band playing their warmup routines.
The distant sound coming from the general direction of Oak Grove High School, through the drizzly gray morning air, took me right back to Spokane, standing in my backyard straining to see the marching band practice across the field, and to countless marching band competitions on the west side of the state where I was surrounded by bands practicing and trying to stay warm in the rain.
Suddenly I felt 16 again. I felt the cold brass in my hands, the soft turf under my feet, the weight of my letterman’s jacket, the anticipation of performing, frustration of leading an unruly horn section, and the pure love for the music and the marching. I wanted to run and join the band, practice roll stepping, learn the music, and repeat the formations over and over until they were perfect. I wanted to stand in the rain and be given rousing speeches about excellence and dedication and practice and teamwork. I wanted to squint in the bright lights shining on the field during a competition, play my solos in front of the band feeling their critical eyes on me, feel the connectedness of the music and the movement of hundreds of musicians and dancers as we glided across the field determined to give 110%, stand at attention during an awards ceremony waiting for the announcement that we won, and watch our parents cheer and beam with pride from high up in the stands.
Then I walked back inside. I was again 26, faced with some decisions and the opportunity to determine the next direction in my life. I returned to my thoughts about careers and money and mortgages. I made lists and packed up my computer and debated whether I had time to stop for coffee before driving to work. I put on makeup and practiced speeches in my head. I wondered how I had gotten here and where to go from here. And wished I could go back to being 16, when the music and the routines were laid out in front of me, and when I knew that if I practiced hard and got everyone else to practice hard and work together, we would all win.