Tuesday, August 11, 2015

The summer I didn't get it all together.

Here we are. The other side of what I assumed for so long would complete me. I've now marched a summer of drum corps with an amazing corps full of amazing people, but I'm left with a feeling too familiar. I still don't have it together. I'm not all figured out and I don't even exactly know what happened this summer. It all feels like a blur of high school gyms, turf nuggets, and entirely too damp gloves. Each day melted into another and drum corps was not at all what I thought it would be.

Since I was first introduced to drum corps, I was under the false belief that everyone on the field was perfect. It sounds so silly, but I really watched in such awe that I thought it was other-worldly - almost magic. I held onto the idea that if I could march in a show, I would have a piece of that perfection. I would be a part of that confident presence I saw from each corps I loved.

But it's not that glamourous.

Drum corps is a circus. Almost literally. You drive all over the country in a fleet of about 7 vehicles, eat out of a truck, and perform and practice and perform and practice and hardly ever sleep. Of course, I knew all of that going in, but I never anticipated that I could feel so crumby doing something I once loved so much.

There is a moment from OCHS band that I remember very clearly being my favorite performance moment. It wasn't a show - it was just a practice, one where it had been raining. I didn't have my shoes on and I was performing only for Mr. Provost, Mrs. Rogers, and the moon. But I have never felt so free. It was almost spiritual. I wanted to experience this in a new more elevated way. "The core of man's spirit comes from new experiences." I went into drum corps excited for lots of these moments.

But those moments didn't come.

I spent practices panicked that I wasn't up to par with my teammates. I was stressed about performances. I cried a lot. I was sick almost the entire summer, not counting my two concussions, a cracked rib? (undiagnosed), an ongoing back injury, not being able to feel my big toes for 4 and a half weeks, and a pretty ugly black eye/ slight nose break combo three days before finals. I spent shows counting my butt off trying to keep in perfect time with the others. I never felt the music or the magic. I felt only the stress of the unattainable goal - perfection.

I should also mention that if you mess up in a show, it's called a Raisin. Well that's just great. My nick name is Raisin. They sang a song before every show called Raisin-free. I couldn't help but feel like every thing I did was a raisin since I am Raisin. Like I was destined to screw something up no matter what. It's like if everyone you've ever loved had affectionately called you "Moron" your whole life only for you to realize that to everyone else, that means you are incompetent or inadequate.

Moreover, I went into drum corps with the hope that I would find home and a family in the organization. I wanted a place where I was loved and accepted. I don't want to say that I didn't find that because there were moments of clarity and love, but I mostly realized that I already have that. When I was in Texas I received a package from mom (and the whole family) that made me cry for about three hours straight. I was so blind to it before, but I have a family who loves me and knows me better than I ever realized. I felt selfish for leaving all of you and ached for the 2015 beach trip with JR and GiGi that I'll never have. I realized that night that I opened that gift that I hadn't smiled in a very long time. I had again found myself in a situation where I was uncharacteristically unhappy and knew that the journey back to myself was going to be a difficult one as long as I was on the road.

So we get to Indy. The only words I have are from American Horror Story - "I prepare for the noble war. I'm calm. I know the secret. I know whats coming and I know no one can stop me not even myself... I don't feel sad. I don't feel anything."

On finals night when I finished my performance (which was the best I've ever performed that show) I was in tears. Not because I was sad it was over and not even really because I was happy it was over. Mostly because I was so relieved and so glad that the staff would never have to deal with me and my lack of instincts again. I loved them so much and wanted to be good for them, but it was never quite enough. I never quite got the consistency I knew they wanted me to have. I never had the lines or extensions that were quite long enough. I didn't lunge deep enough. I never quite went to every drill spot perfectly. And that made it hard for me to even look them in the eyes when I was crying at finals. While everyone else went around sad the season was over, I only wanted to apologize to each person who believed in me for being such a Raisin. I hardly recognized myself. I was in so many ways stronger and in so many other ways weaker. I can't quite say that I became a better person out of all this, even though I'm sure there is long-term growth that inevitably happens when you work on one discipline for three months straight.

But! I made it through. I had some moments of beauty. I finished the season. I met some of the best people in the world. I had a finals run that wasn't bad. I checked drum corps off the list. I met some amazing alumni. Most of all, I am endlessly proud to call myself a Boston Crusader. If I had taken my slow-twirling, noodle-armed self anywhere else, I don't think I would've made it through. But being a Boston Crusader is so special. I can't quite explain it.

So why did I go? Why did I do this? These are the best words I can offer on that...

"The sea's only gifts are harsh blows, and occasionally the chance to feel strong. Now I don't know much about the sea, but I do know that that's the way it is here. And I also know how important it is in life not necessarily to be strong but to feel strong. To measure yourself at least once. To find yourself at least once in the most ancient of human conditions. Facing the blind deaf stone alone, with nothing to help you but your hands and your own head." - Chris McCandless, Into the Wild 

Mostly I'd just like to say that for the most part, I tried to not pity myself and I guess I'm proud of that. I have so much fight in me simply because every single day was a battle. At the end of the day, I'm certainly glad I did. Proud to be a Crusader. And now, BACCG, you are truly Raisin-free.