I still need to post about my trip to Nara, my first Japanese baseball game, a trip to the Fushimi Inari shrine, and 100 other things I’ve done here that I just haven’t posted about yet, but I feel the need to capture my feelings today in my final moments here in Japan. The hysterical laughs from the baseball game and the videos of us getting chased by the deer in Nara will still resonate with me tomorrow when I have 13+ hours on a flight back to the US to describe them… how I’m feeling today, however, will continue to evolve as the hours tick down to my last show here in Nagoya, Japan, and will continue evolving until I get off the plane back home in North Carolina in less than 48 hours.
As with everything exciting and highly-anticipated that I’ve ever done in my life, I can’t ever believe it’s happening until I’m there. And even then, when I’m there, I won’t believe that it’s happened to me until it’s over.
How I’m feeling today is very similar to how I felt at my first DCI Finals, the last day of my first year teaching, and my last show with Mix It Up. These are all days that seemed like they’d never get here, and then they get here and I can’t believe how quickly time has flown by. I’m cursed to assume that everything I do could be taken away from me in a heart beat… my first summer of drum corps I knew I was only one accident away from a pulled muscle or a broken bone, and I knew I had to savor every moment on the field until I was off the field on finals night. When Donnie called me in May and offered me this opportunity I was erupting with excitement and anxiety… my life’s dream had finally called, and I have to do everything I can to make sure it’s fulfilled. Every vehicle I’ve driven more carefully, every decision I’ve made has been with more caution, and every plane ride I’ve taken has been filled with more anxiety. I hate to be morbid, but I can’t help but stop and think about how fortunate I am to have the life I have, and remind myself that any life is incredibly fragile and could be changed without warning in an instant.
I’ve been the most fortunate to have seen so many wonderful opportunities through to their fullest capacity.
I can’t believe that soon I’ll be able to say I have been a part of Blast. Not that ‘I’m auditioning for,’ or ‘I hope to be,’ or ‘I am going to be,’ or ‘I plan to be,’ but that ‘I HAVE BEEN a part of Blast.’ I feel like I’ve talked too much already about this being a dream come true for me, but this blog has always been for me, so if any of my readers are tired of hearing about my dream-come-true, then by all means stop reading. I can’t help but hope that everyone in this world has gone through what I’ve gone through… to want something as much as I wanted this, to work toward it, and actually get to experience it. This has been one of the most fulfilling experiences of my whole life. I’m not referring to the amazing cast I got to work with, the month long trip to Japan, or performing in front of thousands of fans each day. Those are all elements that made this enriching, but in order to be fulfilled something must first be desired or anticipated. Without a burning drive to do this someday that was ignited back when I was in middle school this would have been an amazing experience, and that’s it. Because of the 10 years of anticipation, planning, and effort toward this goal, the fulfillment I’m feeling today is so much deeper than anything else I’ve ever felt. I didn’t dream of doing drum corps for years. In fact, even when I showed up for spring training I didn’t really know what I was signing up for. Working at Busch Gardens was something else that just worked out for me. They were all valuable experiences that were enriching, and fulfilling to a certain point, but not like this. I’ve never wanted anything as badly or for as long as I’ve wanted to be a part of Blast… this is what it means to be fulfilled. And, the best part is it’s just inspired me and motivated me to keep working to do more of this and to maintain this fulfillment for as long as possible.
Next year, if I am invited back for the 2017 tour, won’t feel like this. This is the only time in my life I will ever finish my first tour with Blast. Everything in my future is a continuation of my dream becoming a reality… this tour coming to an end is the only time I can truly feel like this dream can never be taken away from me. It’s happened. It’s mine to remember and to relive whenever I want. A fantasy has now become a reality and it will never be anything less than that.
For the record, there are still things I need to achieve with this dream of mine. I want to be on the stage with my cast, and everyone here knows that and wants the same for me. In a way, something WAS taken away from me in this experience. I was never given the opportunity to perform on stage playing my trumpet, and that was taken from me in an instant and without warning. However, after seeing this through to the end, I can honestly say I am so glad this happened this way. It truly is a testament to how the greatest experiences can come from the most unexpected circumstances. I cried so hard when Jim told me I was being moved to conductor. I know, crazy, right? It’s an opportunity most people will never get the chance to do and I’ve been so fortunate to do it. I know that now, but my initial reaction to not playing trumpet was too devastating in that moment. The last time I cried like that was back in 2010 when I was rejected from the AmeriCorps program I had applied to. I remember crying hysterically in my best friend’s arms because I knew I had ruined everything… instead of doing something meaningful with my life through AmeriCorps I was actually going to be unemployed and waiting for grad school to start. I was SO WRONG that day, and I was so wrong that day in June a few weeks ago when I made a phone call home with similar hysterical crying about my move to conductor. That period of time in 2011 ended up being one of the best things that ever happened to me, because it brought me to Carolina Gold, Mix It Up, and my first real teaching gigs that began my journey to becoming the band director that I became. I think this experience at Blast falls in that category, too. I’m scared of what this year is going to bring… I’m, once again, unemployed and unsure of what the future holds for me, but I’m optimistic. Anything could happen. A 2 week trip to Dubai has already made its way into my life plans – how can I not be excited about what else will unexpectedly present itself?
I can’t promise I won’t ever be upset again when things don’t go my way. I’m sure I’ll experience devastation and disappointment many more times in my life, but I can also predict that I’ll be able to embrace those times as well. How could I not after what I’ve experienced? Opportunities masked as disappointments have always made their way into my life and I’m glad I’ve been able to overcome and enjoy them.
This will, no doubt, be an emotional show for me. I will never see this show again. I will never wave my arms for this ensemble again. This show will never be performed in this way with these people ever again. It’s one of the hard things about performing with any ensemble, whether it be DCI, WGI, DCA, etc… members will leave, others will join, the show will change, and it will be different next time.
As sad as I am to be leaving Japan and for this experience to be coming to an end it’s definitely outweighed by the excitement I have in anticipation of being back here doing this again in just a few months. I know that isn’t guaranteed, and I’ll wait with moderate levels of anxiety until I find out if I’m getting a contract for the 2017 tour, but I feel like this is where I belong and this ending all feels temporary. It’s been such a short tour, and so much of it has been deemed ‘different from how it usually is’ and ‘will definitely change before next tour’ that it’s hard to not feel like the best has yet to come. It’s hard to think that I won’t see these people again. I remember my freshman year orientation at UNC when Chancellor Moeser stood in front of us and said, ‘the first time you go home for fall break you will feel like you are going back home… soon that will change, and you will feel like you are coming back to Chapel Hill.’ That’s very much how I feel about this. After Nashville I was coming back home. Now I can’t wait to come back to Blast, to return to this thing that now feels normal to me.
Don’t get me wrong… I’m excited to come back home, too! I guess my heart identifies with several homes these days. That is a post for another day.
Tonight will undoubtedly be filled with lots of hugs, maybe some tears, and a lot of laughs. I don’t like goodbyes, so I’ll be saying ‘see you later’ instead, and I hope my cast mates understand. I remember at Governor’s School in 2005 when one of my teachers said to the class, ‘you are likely meeting one of the 10 most brilliant people you will ever meet in your life here in this class… embrace these friendships while you have them with you.’ He was right, I did meet some brilliant people that day, but with each new chapter of my life comes a new set of brilliant people that I learn from and grow close with. I feel like I just met these people, but then I think about how much time we have spent together over the past 3 months and I realize that these are some of my closest friends in my life right now. There are friends back home that I am just as thrilled to be coming home to, and I know that these two worlds will never collide, but it doesn’t change how much I love these people and will miss them until I can see them again. They aren’t summer camp friends that I will only speak to again when we come back to Japan. These are friends that I’ll call to visit when I know they’re close by, friends that I will continue to talk to during a typical week, friends I’ll call when times get hard, and friends I will start counting down the days until I get to see them again. I can’t believe we’re about to scatter ourselves all across the world for the next 8 months… for the past 3 months they’ve only been a few doors down and so accessible.
Transitioning back to reality is going to be difficult.
I posted this picture right when we got to Japan but had to take it down, and have been trying to find an appropriate time to repost it ever since. I guess now’s that time (now that pictures of our set are circulating). My next goal of the night is to make sure everyone know show much I appreciate everything they’ve allowed me to experience in our time here. So much positivity support from this cast… this is what makes an experience. Not the money, not the schedule, all of the crap that we sometimes have to deal with, none if it is what makes this (or anything) worth doing… it’s the people. Thank you, Blast Fam, for a great summer. ❤️