From the moment I saw all the vets wearing theirs at my rookie camps in 2010, I wanted a Surf necklace. I wanted the beads around my throat. I wanted to wear it everyday until the clasp fused shut and I would never be able to take it off. I wanted to belong.
Now, four years from the first time I threw myself into this crazy drum corps thing, my necklace is still here around my neck , the clasp fused shut. My membership days are gone but I will always be part of the Jersey Surf.
Each necklace starts off with a long row of black beads, carefully threaded one at a time. Blue is used when it’s time to start the highlights around the specialty beads, and a long row of black equal in length to the beginning finishes it out.
A white bead signifies one year of normal marching membership in the Jersey Surf. My necklace has three white beads, one for 2011, one for 2012, one for 2013.
A gold bead signifies that the necklace wearer has marched their ageout year with the Jersey Surf. It goes in place of a white bead. A necklace belonging to a rookout, someone who marches Surf their ageout year only, has no white beads, just a gold.
My necklace has one yellow bead, in addition to the three white and a gold. I wear it in honor of the 2012 Surf show Bridgemania and the amazing partnership the Bridgemen Alumni and the Surf have together. I have played several times with the Bridgemen since 2012. I am both a Bridgemen Banana and the Jersey Surf and I choose to wear the yellow bead.
Some members have clear beads in their necklace, indicating the positions of elevated leadership in the corps, including drum major and horn sergeant.
Should I choose to accept a volunteer or staff position with the Surf in the future, light blue beads will be added to my necklace for each year I fulfill the job.
The Jersey Surf took me, a once small, scared 17 year old kid, and hurled me into a world of pure imagination. Where life was bright and exciting and full of wild adventures. Where I no longer had to listen to the people who told me what they thought I couldn’t do, including myself. Where good triumphed over evil, and sharing the love conquered all.
Whenever I need a bout of courage, I touch the beads at my throat and remember the hundreds of friends I would bravely stand behind in their darkest hours.
Whenever I’m sad, I look at my face in the mirror and necklace beneath it and relive the times on tour I nearly died laughing and the days we went to bed happy after changing the world.
Like I said before, the clasp is fused shut. I cannot remove this necklace until the string gives out and it inevitably shatters, beads cascading down my back, scattering, lost in space.
Until it breaks, consider it an extra appendage of my body.
After then, consider it the essence of my soul.