Year of the Ageout

First camp of the year 2014. It’s a January Saturday night after a long day of rehearsal.  It’s after lights out and naturally, I’m not ready to go to sleep yet.  I’m lying on all of the sore muscles in my back, tucked up in my sleeping bag in the largely empty (in the absence of the colorguard) expanse of the girl’s side of the gym, typing into my phone the thoughts that have at last manifested themselves into words.

2014, the year so far off in the distance 3, 4 years ago. Those times before I marched were darker times. I didn’t believe in myself, I struggled to allow myself to find happiness. I feared taking chances.

2014, the year of endings. I will perform in DCI world championships in the year 2014. I will attend the ageout ceremony from the field, not from the stands. I can imagine what the view must be like but I can not fully fathom how it must feel to do something for the very last time.

This is my fourth season with the Jersey Surf. Drum corps went from something I thought I could die happy doing once, but I am now going on my 4th time around.

Winter camps were once pure and absolute magic to me–and they still are. Instantaneous friendship, the unlocking of new music, the challenges not to break, no matter how long the horns stay up, it’s all still there for me.

But there is another feeling to it as well. The slight feeling that it all seems just a bit more tedious than it used to be, a bit too timeworn, even with new challenges and slightly heavier horns and an evolving vibe. The feeling tells me my time has come, my ageout year has arrived none too late and none too soon.

My body begins to pain in ways it hasn’t before; my knees remind me that their critical point of usage into the damage spectrum is still far far off, but beginning to enter the galaxy.

There have been times in my life where the Jersey Surf was the only thing I could reliably hold on to define who I am and what I love. It still is that thing to me, but I am able to look beyond my times here now. There is so many things in the world to align yourself to and a lifetime to do so. I will always be a part of the Surf, and I will be a part of much more than the Surf.

We received ballad music this weekend at camp and have put it together nicely. The orchestration is heavenly.

I close my eyes now, and I am on a field in Indy, the night before quarter finals , with the drum corps, rehearsing our ballad. The sun is setting; we play a release of a gorgeous phrase and the echo bounces of the red sky–forever. I know this moment will come, and bring with it another reincarnation of the most important notion of understanding that I’ve gained in this activity: that expressing your true happiness when you can find it brings no shame, that seconds of joy keep you alive for years and years, that the present matters so very very much.

While I know I will soon be ready to move on, I can not, and will not squander the present. It’s called the present for a reason. It’s a gift, a gift of now. A gift of time spanning your entire realm of feelings and passions, the breathlessness you feel when you laugh too hard for your body to keep up with, the electric sensation you get when you perform with everything that you are.

Fast and furious, epic and life changing, full of the shenanigans that made the decision to band the most liberating, defining force of my lifetime thus far, 2014. I’m ready to Party Rock it to the very—

Beginning 😉

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