Tomorrow, we zip up each other’s uniforms, but turn the capes over backwards.
Tomorrow, we don’t play Tower Chimes. We don’t play the Alma Mater at pregame. And we don’t play In My Life. It’s not our responsibility anymore.
We shiver in the stands for the last time. We wait for hours to take the field at half time, for the last time.
We run the stands, spreading joy and spirit to the mountainous ranges of the stadium, for the last time.
Tomorrow, after Postgame, the others will leave the field and we will storm through our rite of passage, telling our story one last time under the lights.
For three years I’ve watched a group of seniors get called to attention, leaving me behind to wave goodbye and wish them the best. Now it’s my turn to pass through to the Other Side.
I’ve always been afraid of the Other Side.
The Other Side that sways in the stands during In My Life. The Other Side, beyond the NeverLand I’ve lived for so long.
What is on the Other Side? Not the UDMB……
I know some of us will never be involved in a marching band ever again. This is the end, the part where you move on. And that’s so very hard to do.
Band is that one place where you didn’t have to act like you didn’t care. You didn’t have to act like your dancing embarrassed you or your imagination was a nuisance.
That’s really powerful. You didn’t have to act like YOU. DIDN’T. CARE. In a society where apathy is cool, where doing nothing is what you’re supposed to be happy doing, you had something in your life that made you want to be your very best.
There is no greater meaning of teamwork than the strange sorcery that is band. Is there any other activity in the world where 340 people lock heartwaves and make a music and picture show out of love?
When we stop doing this, when Senior Day becomes just another yesterday, when our uniform is tucked inside that dark blue canvas bag and delivered back to the loft like a corpse, it’s going to suck.
Of course we’ll feel empty. We went to the Other Side and lost the UDMB. Lost a part of ourselves, the part we were rather deeply fond of. And we’ll dream it isn’t so:
“Sir? Sir, would you like me to play the fight song? Sir, I can run all the way to the top of the stands and play first down to you, if you’d like. I used to be in the band. I used to—“
Once we had 340 close friends, and though the love is unbroken, we ended up in different parallel universes.
Like Rose and the Tenth Doctor. With the vortex and the Daleks and everything. That’s exactly what happens at the Senior game, right? That’s how we get to the Other Side.
So what do we do from here? From this dark, band-less silence?
From the steely cold of the metal bleachers searing through our non-band pants, our cold feet sitting idle in our non-band shoes, our eyes poking out over our non-band scarves watching the band we are no longer in make a show we can no longer make with them?
When we leave, we take that little piece of the UDMB we did steal away and hide, tucked safe in our hearts, because we were so afraid to lose it–
And we throw it in the air like a big puff of glitter! We dance as it rains down like perpetual happy dust.
When we meet someone new, we express genuine interest in who they are. We make them feel welcome. We take a chance and offer them our friendship.
When we get an opportunity to perform, we go for it 100 percent. We make everyone around us jealous that THEY aren’t the ones performing.
When we see something wrong, we stand up and fight for kindness, equality, and love.
After all, it was band that taught us that fear was never a good reason not to try.
Do you remember all the nights we hit a company front and marched into the stars?
Do you remember how everything you had to give was magnified exponentially when it became part of everyone else’s power?
Do you remember what it was to lose yourself in a sea of amazing people in order to find out who you really are?
If you remember, you are NOT alone! Because all those people on the Other Side, they remember TOO!
You are on the Other Side, but it is not dark and desolate and downhill!
The Other Side, it is alive and brilliant and full of as much love as you can bring with you through the vortex! And love does not shrink, it can only grow!
You can love the UDMB from any distance you choose and you can still be happy, you can still have it in you, you can still BE the University of Delaware Fighting Blue Hens Marching Band.
Keep your memories vivid even as they begin to rust. Keep the fight song in your soul even as your fingers crumble from premature arthritis. Keep as many friends in your life as you dare.
In the words of Heidi Sarver herself, “you did good”. Seniors, we did good. We did AMAZING. Keep your eyes with pride, always.
“In my life…”