Alone. That is how I felt all the time. Being bullied from kindergarten and up to the middle of fourth grade has that effect on someone. I was shoved, humiliated, teased, tossed around, and picked on in a big school by other students who were taller, bigger, and stronger than me. I pulled myself into a little cocoon of isolation, trying to block out the pain they caused. I also tried to make friends but….that did not work out the way I hoped each time I tried. I would get the “insect on the floor” look and they would block me out. I always felt as if I had been stepped on when I got that look. So, I detached myself nearly completely from all the other students. This is where I went wrong so long ago and a large part of why I am the way I am. I would not talk to anyone unless I absolutely needed to. You know that kids book “Can You Get an F in Lunch?”? Well, that was my life for a while. I look back now and see a girl who should have opened up and looked around. I placed myself in a cocoon of isolation when I should have been more open about things.
I was still isolated when I came to Cambridge and I hid behind this mask. I stripped my barriers down inch by carefully built inch, hoping if they could see that the mask was a mask that someone would help me. In the eighth grade a single girl wanted to be my friend and I jumped at the chance. It was a move that both hurt me every once in awhile, and made me stronger. She is not the point of this but at the same time she is. I had someone to look at and talk to who was not a teacher. I held onto her with a grip that if it had been on her neck, would have strangled her to death.
It was also eighth grade year that I began marching band. In order for you to understand you must know that before I had played the bass clarinet since the middle of fifth grade. I could finally release my emotions without it being a tantrum in both my eyes and everyone else’s. But, you cannot play a bass clarinet on the marching field without having a very high risk of damaging and/or breaking the expensive instrument. I went to a small school then so I was moved to the cymbal player for during marching band. Marching band seems to be people having fun on the field and playing their instruments but that is not always the case.
In Cambridge, Idaho the students write the marching band show so, while the director writes the drill we practice our eight to five and music. To keep it short and sweet it takes eight steps to get from one yard line to the next. You must play your instrument right and well as you stay on beat and in step with the rest of the marching band. If you are even a quarter of a beat or step off the band gets no points for the maneuver or section of music that they are doing. You had to stay absolutely still until the drum major screamed “Band ten hut!!!”. The band had to be one big machine, not a bunch of individuals. I loved marching band because I could let my emotions through in a way that was not a tantrum. I relished the feeling of harmony as the songs were played, even when there was none to be heard. I bathed (although not literally) in the feeling that I was able to do something right that no one shoot me down for but actually encouraged me to do.
As we rehearsed I learned I loved the feeling of being part of the band, performing on the field, and making the audience laugh or dance along. I did not want to let the band down at District Three Marching Band Competition (D 3 as we called it). I felt as if D 3 was my test to being accepted into the group and that if I blew it that we would lose in the worst possible way and I would be cast out in the eyes of my fellow band players. It took going to D 3 to realize that I had been looking in the wrong places for friends and that isolation only made things more difficult. If you are familiar to our show “Genres” from the year of 2012 you will understand the show better. If you aren’t you are only getting bits and peices here and you can go to youtube and find it under the following URL code: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wroolPfY5so&index=5&list=PLvP79e8kMTsenUBj795RxXJasFRec1gqa . Now, we get to D 3 of 2012. The band takes its first position and Drew salutes the judges. I hear our pit leader begin the introduction and see the crowd. The entire show goes past in a blur. Meanwhile, my anxieties and fears chase each other around in my head. The most prominent is “Am I good enough for them?”. “There is no trophy high enough for what we do here.” the director always says but I have never felt as if I deserved that trophy. Now I know I cannot let them down without letting myself down. We hear the trumpets as the show comes to a climax. The song echoes off the concrete walls, in my head, and in my heart.
Now, I know what you are thinking, “What the heck does marching band have to do with being alone?” Well, a marching band, as I have said before, is a big machine. It does not matter if you have twenty members or two hundred, you are still a machine. I realized then, as we exited the field that I was not alone. I was astonished to finally see that NO ONE IS ALONE, no matter what has happened to them, who they are, or what is going on in their lives. I finally understood that the people who would stand by me were just waiting for me to find them behind me to take a step forward. All I had ever needed to do was look somewhere other than where I was looking to find what I really needed.