The lights come on as the sun goes down.
For the past eight years, my October Saturdays have been spent in a football stadium. For five years it was me on the field, with the thrill of seeing all the people who had paid to see us, not the football team, hearing my name on the loudspeaker as they announced the leadership, throwing my head back and looking straight at the judges in their box, as if to say, “We have worked hard to get to this point, and I am proud of us, no matter what you think”. For the last two years, it was standing on the field at attention during awards, saluting, shaking hands, and holding tight to the trophy with one hand the whole bus ride home. I loved when we dressed for competition and snapped our white inserts into our uniform jackets. I loved looking for our band director after knowing we had done our very best to see tears in his eyes.
For the past three years, it has been my mom and me, videotaping my sister and judging all the other bands. Getting there at two, when our band doesn’t play until 7:40. Laughing, wincing, smiling, grimacing. Annoyed, elated, irratated, worried, disappointed, and furious. Being sat on, being squished out of our seats. Being hot, then cold. We’ve picked the winners and the ones who should’ve been the winners. We’ve avoided obnoxious parents from our own school and been stuck in the middle of those from other schools. We’ve had our eardrums assaulted, our pride hurt. We got home at 2 last night. And we anticipate the next time we’ll get to do it.
The sky was really a pretty shade of purple, but my camera couldn’t capture it.
We’re annoyed with the bands (the band parents, mostly) who have too much pride and spirit. I’m cynical, in only in my judgmental little head, but I can be moved. And I can yell, even when I’m the only one yelling in the section (everybody else will go crazy in 2 minutes when it’s their band’s name called).
And I wish I could have been on the bus when the band captain got on with a trophy as tall as he is, after my alma mater beat out 13 other schools to win the sweepstakes. I wish I could have been on the bus with earplugs.
My very favorite effect is when the color guard has two flags, but is twirling them as one, and then, at the high point in the music, they separate them and look like they have wings..Gets me every time.
Really, though, I don’t want to go back now. We had our own nights like that, four years ago, and several other times besides that. It’s good to see this new group of kids enjoy that same success, and I’m really happy for them. My classmates and I taught the leaders in this band everything they know! But now, I’m pretty content with sitting on this side of the stadium.
You would look like this if you had been sitting on bleachers for nine straight hours, too.