It’s 6:22 on a Saturday morning when a soggy-eyed teenage boy with tousled hay for hair opens his sister’s bedroom door and pulls the blanket from her snoring body. She doesn’t budge, so he takes the pillow underneath her straw-colored, tangled hair and holds it over her face until she jolts awake with flailing limbs hoping to strike him.
“Good morning,” he says through tired teeth, “Please get up. We have band competition in forty minutes. Let’s go get coffee.”
His sister throws the pillow at the door as he leaves. She’s exhausted, of course, and now irritated. Her brother is insensitive to the attitudes of newly awakened females. I know all this because I am the sister, and my brother is a ridiculously obnoxious morning person.
Nonetheless, I comply. Within ten minutes, we’re out the door. In ten more minutes, we’ve made it to our small town’s only gas station and filled our lagging bodies with house brewed caffeine and loads of Mrs. Baird’s Powered Mini Donuts, Grant’s personal favorite.
I take a bite of a little donut while driving down the dark road, and Grant sips my coffee on accident and grimaces.
“I only like coffee if it doesn’t taste like coffee,” I smile.
Grant wipes his tongue on a donut. “That isn’t coffee. It’s milk and sugar.”
“Is not. There’s coffee in it. I would know. I paid for it,” I argue. “I pay for all our stuff, free-loader.”
Grant rolls his eyes, but we’ve pulled up beside our band’s buses, and he’s lost his attitude. We unload our uniforms and instruments from my truck and begin the ride with our friends to our biggest competition of the year. As the buses jostle us around, our director reminds us that we are riding on 25 years of excellence. Committing to 1st division this year will guarantee a 26th year, and for me, the last year.
As a senior, this is my last competition. Reminded of that, I take my time buttoning the vest of my uniform under my sleeve. I make sure my silver cord is straight around my arm. I tighten my suspenders just above the tops of my pristine white spats and pat my pants clean. I don my hat and buckle it underneath my chin. Then, I button the collar of my uniform and join the rest of my section as they, too, get ready.
With over 30 trumpets in my section, it could be hard to be close to everyone, but that’s not how it is. I’ve spent four years of my life with incoming freshmen and graduating seniors, and I’ve loved everyone in my section. I may not have gotten along with every one of them, but we all care for one another. My freshmen year I watched the seniors cry over us who they’d barely known for four months and wondered what it could be they made them feel so protective, but now as a senior I understand.
Band has been such a blessing to me. Every person, whether a trumpet or a French horn, percussionist or a flute, has impacted my life in a tremendously awesome way. I’ve made the best friends of my life in this group of musical group. Every year, though the group has grown and shrunk, band has brought me closer to the greatest collection of high schoolers. I hope our freshmen experience the fun we’ve had with our groups over our educational career. I want that so badly for them.
I want more time to experience this fun for me too, but my time is nearly over. We’ve marched our show, all shining with our hats and instruments. Our eight minutes of music is over, and we exit the field. For some, this is just the first of many horns down, but there are tears on the faces of the eldest around me, and I know we all remember that feeling when you have finally become a part of something great. Our band gets a 1st division on that performance, and our drum majors who are also all seniors sob, and we all give hugs and sappy monologues like old people who just realized how big their grandchildren are growing. It’s the last time I’ll march, but it’s the first time I’ve realized it. College is coming, and I’ll miss this band. I love this big group of ever-changing people.
I try to explain through tears the excitement of growing up and moving on to my brother in the passenger seat on the way home, but I’m overcome with bittersweet memories. I decide on relishing in those final moments as I heard the whistle echo our absence as we left the marching arena. I’ll try to explain this feeling tomorrow to him instead.
After all, tomorrow we’ll be another day older. I’ll still be a senior, but Grant’s still an underclassman. I hope band does for him what it’s provided for me. I hope he loves it like I do. I hope he has fun with it, and most of all, I hope he understands when I graduate that if he ever tries to wake me up like that again, that his own senior year will be hard to come by.