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November 14, 2008
I walk in cold and scared. The white walls seem to be collapsing toward me. I get in line with the group and open my mouth to warm up. The whole time, not knowing if I will succeed or fail. Voices ready and prepared for action, we get into position. I am in my spot, in the front row, facing back. From my position I can see the entire choir. A vast sea of grey suits and navy coats blanket the platforms before me. The first of four clicks is heard. I’m not sure if I can do this. The second. This will be interesting. The third click sounds. My mind is going crazy and yet forcefully made calm. I think of the story of my life from the past day.

It’s another long school day at Wahlert Catholic. On this particular day, it’s long but not as boring as most. Classes are shortened due to the junior class renewal we have today. Some teachers don’t do anything and them and the students just hang out. Then you have the spawns of Satin himself; the occasional teachers that actually teach. You know, the teachers that, although we have shortened classes, attempt to cram everything they have planned for the day into the micro class period. They are suddenly really strict and don’t allow any talking, or fun of that sort, so that they may rush through a forty-five minute lesson in twenty flat. Mid-day rolls around and my class herds into the gymnasium like cattle. We start our renewal where we talk about friendship, family, love, being a good person, etc., etc. I personally probably am not paying attention as well as I should. I like, more, just being with my classmates, my friends. I get hungrier as renewal moves on. I think, “Wonder how much longer it’ll be, I’m starving.”


I open my eyes as if it were still a dream. It’s as if I’ve been asleep for years. Fresh out of a coma, I start to move. As I sit up, something is wrong. As this incredible pain drives up my spine directly into neck, I slow my assent. I try to take everything in at once but this is made more difficult by the herd of elephant that just ran over my head. It is difficult to think straight when an orchestra of out of tune bells is ringing in your head. In short, I have a headache. I notice the unusual scene, from when I normally awake, of my family present around me. It is made extra unusual by the appearance of my siblings. My brother and my oldest sister live in some other place far away and my other older sister attends school at University of Iowa. As the awkward stares and deadly quiet atmosphere continues, I bury my head in my palms. I close my eyes to try to take everything in but darkness is all that my head can conjure. It’s as if my brain is gone. My mind has fallen into a large abyss and I have no means to retrieve it. All seems lost to me so I ask the first and most obvious thing I can think of, “What happened?”

My loving and very informational mother tells me in a serious and short description what had happened to me, “You fell.” I suddenly feel the urge to come back with a smart-a** sarcastic comment but find myself incapable of thinking up something as witty as this. I plainly and unemotionally ask again, “What?” The piercing eyes continue as I get asked where my brother and sister live. I quickly answer Scottsdale but second-guess myself immediately after the words leave my lips. My family looks at each other and I realize right away that Scottsdale is the incorrect answer. My brother lets me know that he, in fact, lives in Chicago and moved there from Scottsdale a while back. Then my mother, along with the rest of my family, fill me in on the most inconvenient story of the past night. I listen very carefully, because the magnitude of the skill required to comprehend even a Dr. Suess book in my state is more strenuous than trying to move a bus with your mind. I understand the jist of what they are telling me. “You fell,” is the abridged version of the story I find out. Apparently I was out at Sundown Mountain, where I work, snowboarding and some workers found me in the maintenance office holding my dented helmet. They asked me if I worked that night, and knew something was wrong when I answered in a combination of mixed syllables and grunts; better known as gibberish. The workers then contacted my mother who came and took me to the hospital. At the hospital, I got a C.A.T. scan and we found out that I had a severe concussion. Who knew? After that, someone took me home. It could have been the bum behind the dumpster for all I know. I arrived home and immediately freaked out. I went mad! I ran around the house screaming and yelling, “What happened? I don’t remember anything.” I imagine I was really scared but thankfully I can’t remember. This act of crazed terror of mine went on until some of my friends came over. About twelve classmates of mine came to my house. I settled down and talked with them. I asked the same three or four questions an uncountable number of times throughout the night. I would have played my accident off pretty well if I didn’t have the I.Q. of a rock.

My head still in my hands, I try to think back to the experience but nothing appears to me. I start thinking about other things. With all of the craziness the night before, there’s bound to be something important I’m forgetting. My eyes grow wide and I quickly search the room for a clock. I stare at the clock in concerned disbelief. Without moving, I ask my mom, “Do I have a show choir competition today?” I then find out that I, indeed, do. Not only do I have a competition but, in fact, have missed the bus. The bus, along with the rest of the choir and band, left two hours prior to me awaking. My stomach drops. Though, my mom informs me that I am still going to the competition. Sweet relief! I am going to ride down with my mother where it will be less noisy. That is good, since the orchestra is getting more and more out of tune each time I take in another piece of information.

I can’t get in the car and be on my way quick enough. I jump in the car and head out. On the hour and a half ride down to Cedar Rapids, Iowa, I decide to lay back, relax, and just go through the show in my head. I turn the radio down, recline my seat, cover my eyes and do…nothing. Oh no! I know what I want to do. I have it in my head to perfect the show but nothing is there. I lay still, trying to remember a move; a small fragment of choreography but all I see is darkness. The black hole in my head is sucking in all elements and traces of the show. Scared, I don’t move. The one thing I love; the thing I worked so hard for is crashing to a terrible end right here in my head. The thing I sweat for; the thing I spent hours perfecting is disappearing. All the annoying, hard times, all the glorious momentous times, all the friendships I made doing this thing I enjoy so much, all of this is lost to me. Part of my life; part of me is gone. All this is going through my mind at once, and as the hole in my chest grows larger, a tear can be seen making it’s way down my cheek. This tremendous torture continued for the duration of the trip.

I arrive at the school and enter into the unknown. I walk through the halls. The walls close in as I near our homeroom. The door is open for me as if gates to a new world. I pass the threshold and find myself surrounded by chaos. I look around at the masses of people running in every direction. There are clothes, coolers, and bags everywhere. The familiar scent of hairspray, toothpaste, and deodorant fill my nostrils. I immediately spot a space across the room to change. I head to this spot. On the way to the other side of the room, people are saying things to me but I do not comprehend any of it. All I have on my mind is to get to that spot that I had my eyes on and get ready. I’m a man on a mission. I guess, technically, I am just plainly ignoring everyone. I put on one of my costumes and preset my other costume. After prayer, the choir and I head to warm ups. The chills and goose bumps start crawling up my spine.

The fourth and final click is heard. I step around, grab Jenny’s, my partner’s, hand and begin. We get a little ways into the show and I realize all is great. I hit every note. I nail every step. The show that eluded my thoughts less than two hours before is now flowing back to me as if it never left. It’s almost as if my limbs know the show and were playing it out the way they remember. Suddenly all fear and nerves leave my body. For a second, my eyes meet those of my director. During this split second, there are two more smiles in the room. One smile is big with satisfaction, the other gleaming with pride and joy.

Warm ups are finished and we all walk to the gym. Although I did well during warm ups, I still am uneasy about the show. I am back stage, lined up and ready to go up on stage. We start to move and my heart speeds up. I walk to my position, Jenny at my side, and face back. Two clicks go by. My hearts racing, my adrenalines pumping, and my pores are beginning to sweat. The third click sounds. Nerves and chills collide with my spine once again. Surprisingly though, my mind was at ease. All was calm from the shoulders up. The fourth click. Step and turn. I see a bright light. The heat from this light made sweat beads form on my forehead. It’s as if the sun snuck its way in and sat in the top balcony. My eyes start to adjust to the brightness and figures start to form. Soon, faces shine through brighter than the light itself. Out of the dark ocean of the audience, there is a flood of familiar smiles. One smile shows through more than the others. As I take a glimpse of this sparkle in the crowd, I see the face of the one woman who has been by my side through this whole terrifying and unnerving event. I see my mother’s face glowing and proud for me, and all, to see.

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