She played her horn in elementary school, middle school, high school. In university, she wasn't a music major, just your average every-day liberal-arts major, but she chose a school that gave her plenty of opportunities to keep playing. She played in marching band (even though she could have cared less about football), pep band (even though she cared even less about basketball) and concert bands and made friends that she keeps in touch with over 20 years later.
Then she moved to another country. It wasn't far away from home, but a lot of things were different. Subtle things. There wasn't a 'marching band' culture where she moved to, for instance. But she found a community concert band, and they welcomed her and her horn, and she was happy.
Many years went by. Some members of her horn section came and went, went and came. Some of the ones who went she still keeps in touch with, and still plays with from time to time. Other members of her section, and the band in-general, became friends. Even the type of friend you call when you're having a real, honest-to-god nervous breakdown and need someone to help you get help. The band grew, and some things about the band changed, and sometimes people got angry with one another, because people are people and what can you do? She tended to avoid the band when things like that were happening. But one thing always remained: being a part of nearly 50 people coming together to make something amazing.
Sometimes she took the band for granted. Sometimes it was a royal pain in the ass to get to rehearsal. Sometimes she didn't go — not because she was sick, or too busy, but because she just simply couldn't summon up the energy to be arsed to leave the house that night. Sometimes she would be all like, "This is supposed to be fun and a hobby and it's stressing me out! Screw that!" When she did make it, she was usually a little late, because she couldn't seem to get it together to leave earlier. (Her mother has assured her that tendency is genetic.)
Sometimes very nice people helped out and picked her up and gave her rides to rehearsal. Those were some of the only times she was on time. Her section teased her a little about that, because that's what friends do.
It was funny, though — she noticed that every time she got up the energy to go, even on the days she didn't want to, she came home feeling better.
Because nearly 50 people had come together to make something amazing, and she was still a part of that.
After several years, the woman went back to graduate school. Again — not for music. She was still a silly liberal arts geek. She was in graduate school for a long, long time because she works very, very slow. It became harder and harder for her to get to rehearsals. A couple times while she was in school, she had to take breaks from her band because her schedule was so crazy it felt like she was juggling geese. It made her a little sad, and she missed some of her friends and her horn (which she still loved), but mostly at those times she was just grateful that she didn't have to leave the house again for another obligation. (She is very bad at juggling geese.)
She sometimes still took her band and her friends for granted. She always figured that they would still be there when she came back.
And even though they didn't have to be, they always were.One day, she went to rehearsal after being away for many, many weeks (again). She was a little resentful, because she had so many other things to do, and a huge deadline that was pretty much the be-all, end-all of why she had been in school for 10 more years, and she was running 30 minutes late and annoyed at traffic and life and the fact that she hadn't had time to stop for coffee and she was generally pretty annoyed at the world (because OF COURSE, it's all about her, right?). She arrived at rehearsal, quietly took her seat and apologized to her section mates. They simply said, "You made it! We're so glad!", and she got ready to play.
And the band started to play.
Suddenly, all the tension and all the anger and stress and everything she'd been holding inside her for weeks and months came pouring out. She sat there, holding on to her horn (which she still loved) for dear life, sitting in her seat while the band played around her, and she couldn't stop crying.
Because nearly 50 people had come together to make something amazing, and she was still, despite everything, a part of that.
She played with tears running down her face for that whole piece (a hymn), and she was still crying when the band started the next piece (a mambo). It was awfully hard to play a horn and cry at the same time, so the notes coming out weren't very good. She apologized to her section-mate sitting beside her. It was maybe a little ridiculous. But maybe not. She was so glad to be there, and so grateful that everyone was just happy that she could make it and didn't hold it against her that she hadn't been there for weeks before.
Or at least, if they did, they didn't let her know that.
Or at least, if they did, they didn't let her know that.
She really appreciated that.
If anyone noticed that she was playing out-of-tune upbeats during the mambo with full-on tears running down her face, they didn't say anything, even if it was a little bit funny.
She appreciated that, too.
She's not done with school yet. After she is, something else will probably come up to take a lot of her time, like, say, a JOB. She'll probably still sometimes take the band for granted. She'll probably still miss more rehearsals than she should, because energy is still a commodity that she has to ration. Music is still her hobby, not her job, and sometimes life takes priority. She's older now, and had more practice, but she's still not very good at juggling geese.
But she's pretty sure now that she's where she belongs.
And although it took her almost 20 years, now she knows to always bring tissues to band practice.