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Josie O'Grady

United States

If a particle of your observations tug at you a certain way, don't forget to write it down.

Message to Readers

This is a bit of a rough draft, so please keep this in mind if you have any constructive feedback.
Thanks for taking the time to read my work!

The Big Night

October 4, 2015

9/11/15, Friday, 11:00pm.

I know it is late, but I can't sleep, and I had to write the course of tonight's events that have 
made me feel so excited and alive and are the reason I cannot sleep, despite that it is after 11.

Our first football game was tonight, and Miss Fretz insisted we show up at 6, an hour before the game started, and I now see that she was indeed right. All the kids in band are nice and pretty serious, but it takes so long for a such a large group of teenagers to settle down and be ready to start playing. I can only imagined what would've happened if the band was told to show up 15 minutes before the  game started. We would never have been ready to perform the half time show!

I am surprised how kind and helpful everyone in the band has been to me since I joined this summer. I was expecting that they would keep their distance from a girl who was a year younger than all of them, and who didn't even live in the same town as they did, or go to the same school! So I was amazed to be welcomed by their friendly, happy-go-lucky attitide.

There were a lot of questions from most of the kids, and I got used to giving the answers over and over.
You're Nolan's little sister, aren't you? Why don't you go to the high school? How old are you? How are you in band?
"Yes, I am Nolan's sister," was the reply. "I am 13 and in 8th grade, so I don't go to the high school. I am here because Miss Fretz needed more flute players, and she invited me to join band." But you will go to the high school next year, right? "Probably not. I am homeschooled, and I plan to be homeschooled throughout high school." That's cool. See you around. And the questions stopped.

I knew I was ready for my first football game, but when the hour was upon me, I was convinced that everything was going to go wrong. At the top of the list was my last move for the show, which involved me traveling from the far 40 mark to the 50 mark to get to my last position. Which is nothing too difficult, except that it means I have to walk backwards while playing, abrubtly turn right, and continue walking sideways, until I see the person I'm supposed to be in front of. I have to do this while playing, eyes straight ahead, and not bumping into a single person, but of course they are all trying to get into their positions, too, which makes my job so much easier.

Mom dropped Noel and me off at promptly 6:00, and I walked to the football field frantically going through my positions for the show in my head, while trying to carry my uniform, hat, jacket, flute, and backpack all at the same time and trying not to get hit by a car while walking across the busy street.

For the next hour, the band spent the time tuning their instruments, practicing the songs, changing into their uniforms, etc. Once the hour was up, my nerves were somewhat calmed, and people were beginning to show up. At 7:00, the band played The Star Spangled Banner, which sounded pretty good. And once the audience began to applaud our performance, I was feeling confident.

We continued to play music while sitting in the stands, and my confidence grew even more so. Especially, when our team scored several touchdowns, and we played the cheerful "Hail to the Varsity" every time we scored. But after a half hour, it was time for the show. The two drum majors, Chase and Maddie, called us down from the stands. They led us on to the way opposite side of the field, far past the football players, and arranged us in five straight lines, each flute player leading one of the lines. Then, Maddie walked  around us, inspecting us, straightening our hats, making sure we were in perfect position. I frantically whispered to Ashley, "Ashley, how will I know wear to stop?" "We stop at the far 45," she told me. "Then, at Maddie's command, we go into our positions for the first song." I swallowed nervously in reply. "Josie, someone always messes up the marching, usually me." That made me smile. "But the crowd won't notice. Just act like you're sure of yourself, even when you're not.
"Any doubts, just follow us," Rachel said.
I took a deep breath before responding. "Ok."

Maddie and Chase, at the head of the line, started walking, the capes they wore on their backs that identified them as drum majors blowing in the wind. We followed. I am proud to say that I remembered to keep my back straight, head up, and eyes staring ahead. We kept walking until we reached the far 45 mark. Then, Maddie clapped her hands, and each line broke up as everyone went to find their spots. 

The flue players assembled in their positions for the first song, "Pompeii" by Bastille. When we are fully assembled, the band's formation should resemble the shape of a paper boat. The flutes assembled into our straight line, off of the hash mark, and found that the rest of band was off by a whole line from us, making us look detached from them.

"What. The. Heck," said Kristen. 
"We better just move over," Rachel muttered hurriedly. 
We did, then got to the ready. That is a positon where you keep your legs shoulder-width apart, bend your head and look at the ground, point your instruments to the ground and remain still. I have discovered that a big part of marching band is teaching your body to remain still, and remain rigid, like a toy soilder, when your teacher or drum major orders you to attention. Moments later, Maddie clapped her hands and shouted "Band-chen, HUT!" We, the band, moving as one, responded by snapping our heels together and pointing our instruments forward. "HUT!" Pause. Maddie clapped her hands. "Band horns UP." We moved our instruments into playing position. "One, TWO." Pause. Maddie started conducting. "One, TWO..." Then the drummers started beating their drums. 

That was the command. The trumpets, clarinets, low brass, and the flutes led the song with a high, beautiful F note. As I played it, I felt the note come alive with all the other instruments blending in with it. It made me hold it out long, longer than I had ever been able to hold it before.

The low brass started playing. That was our cue. The flutes started marching into the next formation, silently counting in our heads how soon until we had to play. One, two, three four. Two, two, three,  four. Three, two, three, four...then we started playing the first measure, as did the trumpets, the clarinets, and the saxophones.

We cruised our way through the first song without any trouble. Then, the second song began, which we didn't have trouble with either. Then, the third song began, "My Songs Know What You Did In The Dark" by Fall Out Boy. Worried I was going to miss up one of the seven formations in the song, I focused on taking careful steps that stayed in time with the tempo. I barely payed attention to the music, I had practiced the song so much, my fingers just knew where to go without looking at the music. But, when we reached the second to last move, when the flutes are in a line and are the closest to the audience, I began to panic. The last move was coming up. How could I do it without bumping into anybody, especially Tyler, who I have to pass on the way to my spot, and who carries a huge red tuba. If he falls down while carrying that thing, he is going to break his neck. No kidding. And what if...

But the band started moving into the last position, and I had no choice but to start walking backwards
and hope for the best.

I managed to make it from walking backwards to sideways, though narrowly missing a saxophone player.
All was going well, I saw my spot in view...but where was Rachel? She was in front of me for the last move,
and I should be seeing her heading this way also. But she wasn't there. And if she wasn't there, then that
meant I wasn't heading for the right spot. Then where was my spot? But I had no time to think. It was time 
for the band to stop moving, and I had to stop where I thought my position was.

One measure left. I started to play, but in my head I was so embarrased. I was supposed to be behind Rachel,
next to Ashley, and somehow I had wound up in the trumpet section. What a mess!

The song ended. Miss Fretz clapped her hands. "Band, right PACE!" We turned to the right. "One, TWO."
Then we started marching off the field as the audience applauded. That's when I noticed Ashley was in front
of me. That confused me. If Ashley was in front of me, then that meant that before we turned to the right,
Ashley was next to me. Which meant that I should have been in the right spot...

Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Rachel on my left. Which meant I had been in position after all!
 Of course! Every time we had practiced, I was used to looking for Rachel's familiar brown hair tied back in a short ponytail. But I din't recognize her because she was in her UNIFORM. I got this feeling of pride that went
right through me, though you couldn't tell because I was doing what Miss Fretz had taught us on the first
day of band camp; my eyes were straight ahead, and my face was expressionless. 

When I first found out I would be in the marching band, back in July, I was thrilled, but I found it unbeliveable.
I knew I would be going to band camp, practicing my flute more and harder than I had to before, getting a private
flute teacher to prepare me, but I couldn't imagine going out on the field and marching for the half time show.
So the fact I have come this far past my imagining boundary feels pretty amazing. I wouldn't tell others this,
but this is my diary, so I can be honest that this is a part of the good news I wanted so much to tell you.

This has been my longest entry in my diary ever...wow.
Okay, I am sleepy now. It is almost 12, and I have a soccer game at 8:30am. 
Goodbye! And thanks for listening!





 

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