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I walk into the band hall, fifteen minutes before afternoon band starts. Looking towards my left, my best friend is deep in conversation with someone so I just wave hi and walk over to my xylophone. This summer has been hard, possibly the hardest I’ve ever had. Quietly, I play the sixteenth notes that I have yet to master, figuring out a combination to make it work. I might as well be dressed as a clown, for as I play, I can feel other people’s eyes burning into me.

It doesn’t take long for the questions to start. “What are you doing here?” “Why don’t you march anymore and where’s your sax?” I answer each of their questions, all of them turning away in shock. I didn’t tell everyone about the implant before school was over, unsure if I would really be getting it. With a sigh, I work on the next head scratcher, 5 triplets in a chromatic scale. Starting slowly, I build it up to full speed without any errors, playing it correctly three times in a row to ensure it wasn’t luck.

I feel like running, hiding somewhere. Pit folks have been so kind and helpful but looking at the field outside, a familiar longing hits. The smell of fresh cut grass bringing back hundreds of memories, each one treasured. Since the surgery, I haven’t been cleared to march and the recovery has been long and hard. Both band directors, being so caring and supportive have asked how they can help and have offered exceptions.

Somehow, the music seems soothing although it’s strange and almost foreign. The staring hasn’t died away and through the corner of my eye, I see someone point towards my head. As I think of all that has happened, all the changes and new beginnings, a thought hits me. “There’s more than they’ll ever know.” As puzzling as it might sound, it is exactly what I need to hear. There is more to me than my saxophone. There’s more than just a uniform or a name. I am exactly who I want to be, I am myself. All of the sudden, it doesn’t matter anymore. The staring, the questions, none of it bugs me. Let them ask, let them look. In fact, I might as well turn my head to show them the new implant, wires and all. Heck, I might even smile at ‘em!

Sure, there might be a magnet in my head. Yes, I am deaf. So? All that matters is who I am inside. The same goes for anyone and everyone else. There’s more to folks than just hair and rumors. There are more than opinions and thoughts. Another moment of realization hits, “not everyone is themselves, not everyone really sees.” My music has stopped just as my best friend walks over. After our usual bear hug, I blurt out, “There’s more to folks than most will ever know.” With a sigh, she just nods her head, a silent agreement between two sisters.

A favorite quote flashes across my mind. “To thine own self be true.” Need I say more?





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