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When I think of the summer of the year I turned sixteen I think of two things.
Connor Rite and “Don’t Stop Believen’.”
That was one insane summer.
Marching band started it all for me. We had lived in Glenn County for a year and a half and my parents were worried I wasn’t being social enough, and thought I should start doing more extracurricular cr*p. And so, at the end of sophomore year, I was trying to figure out what I would do in the next year. They had threatened me with making me do therapy. I told them I didn’t have any social problems but what ever. So after a long day of school, I was sitting out on my porch, looking through the huge book of extra classes you could do so I could pick one and put it in my schedule, and then I heard something. It was weird, it sounded like a song I knew, but different. And then I placed it.
It was “Welcome to the Black Parade.”
But played on a trumpet.
What the h***?
I stood up and walked in the yard and was looking around and there was my neighbor, out on his own porch that looked sickeningly the same as mine. (We lived in one of those annoying cookie cutter neighborhoods where all the houses were the same. My parents loved it.) And he was staring down at some sheet music, playing “Welcome to the Black Parade” on his trumpet. I was about to say something when he caught me looking at him. He stopped playing and smiled. “Sorry. Bothering you?”
“No. You’re playing My Chemical Romance.”
“I’m in the marching band.” I ran through the words again in my head, trying to comprehend. “It starts up in a week or two and I’m practicing.”
“Week or two? It starts over the summer?”
“Yeah. It starts in June and goes through October.”
“And the marching band plays alternative music?”
“We play a lot of cool stuff. What, you haven’t been to any of the football games?” He laughed.
He eyed the class book thing I was holding. “Trying to finish your schedule?”
“What else do you need?”
“I need to find a class that will help me be around people more. My parents are worried I’m antisocial.” His smile got really big.
“So something social, huh? Join the marching band.”
“Really?” I was bewildered. He nodded. “Um… I can’t play anything.”
“Do guard. They can always use more people, and you can learn pretty quick. And you don’t have to do all the private lessons and cr*p that you need to play an instrument.”
“Yeah. Color guard. Flags.” I took a minute to think about it. “Come here,” he said, motioning toward his house. I followed him in and he sat on a couch, picking up a laptop. I sat next to him as he started clicking. He brought up a Youtube video. “This was the band’s show last year. The Clue. That was a great show.”
He hit play and amplified voices rang out. “Police department what’s you emergency?”
“SOMEONE’S BEEN SHOT!” And then the band started to play. Right up front was the Color guard, spinning large flags. It looked like something I might be able to do.