My name is Rob, and I remember the good ol' days. Through out high school and most of college, almost my whole life was consumed and surrounded by one thing: drumming. I know you're probably thinking of Animal from The Muppets, or that guy from Def Leppard, or maybe even Neil Peart. I couldn't care less about anyone who played a drum set. I kept up with people like Jeff Queen, Nick Angelis, and Bill Bachman - all famous guys in the world of drum corps.
I took the opportunity to attend a couple of drum corps shows this year. By attend, I mean stand around in a parking lot for several hours watching various drumlines warm up before they take to the field. People familiar with the activity know this is where the action is - behind the scenes. Watching up close is where you really witness the dedication, hard work, the pursuit of perfection, and the immense complexity of what really goes on during the show.
Before this summer, it had been several years since I'd been to a show. Every summer I had thought about it, and every summer it seemed to get lower on my list of priorities when the time rolled around. I always remembered how fun they were. The diesel fumes, and the heat, and the walking incredible distances from rehearsal site to rehearsal site. It doesn't sound like much fun, I know, but it was worth it to see the intensity and the talent that the performers had.
I also remember a certain sense of somberness at the end of the night. I was never able to march with a corps in DCI. I attribute it largely to a back injury I sustained my senior year in high school. It all went down hill after my surgery. I'd always regret not working harder, and pushing myself further to able to partake in what a lot of people consider a life changing experience.
This year was different. Maybe I'm older, or my outlook on life has changed, or maybe it was seeing people that I haven't seen in years. There was still that twinge of regret. But more than that, there was an overwhelming flood of positive vibes and good memories that sprung to the front of my thoughts.
I remember sitting with my practice pad, playing until I couldn't feel my arms anymore.
I remember keeping a keen eye to avoid dog piles my freshmen year.
I remember being in arc in the band room, playing the same legatos exercise for hours. Every single person was concentrating to the very best of their ability on "blending" and being able to produce one single sound from a group of 10 individuals.
I remember shaving all the freshmen's heads on my buddy's back porch.
I remember the band director showing up in his underwear and screaming at us at midnight because we were still rehearsing in the gym the night before a competition.(Yes, that actually happened.)
I remember having bon fires and playing Twister in the section leader's back yard.
I remember the competition where we stood at attention, unwavering and not speaking, for 20 minutes in front of another line waiting on our warm-up spot, and their drum instructor asking us to turn around because we were intimidating his students.
I remember all the good times, and good friends I've made through the common ground of playing percussion.
I remember after the show this year Russ, Jimmy, and me standing around one practice pad trying to hack our way through some old school exercises. We suck now. We suck hard. We're past our prime. We'll never be as good as we used to be.
What did all those years of sweat, and practice, and hard work amount to? Nothing really, but three old guys grasping for what once was.
It doesn't matter, not even a little bit, because I love it. Nights like these are the good ol' days.