If high school is a quilt, then orchestra has been the thread binding it all together; no matter how hard I pull, not only the exceptionalities, but also the mundanities of orchestra remain, stitched deep into the seams between my freshman and sophomore and junior and senior years. Between economics and American literature and chemistry. Between good days and bad days and ok days.
When I remember that there is no more, I don’t believe myself. It is impossible that there will be no more defiant risings in Russian Sailor’s Dance or heartfelt lectures or “reminders” from my orchestra directors. No more lunches and laughs (and tears) and trips. No more magic of playing as a single entity, of geeking out over Shostakovich, of coming home after a concert and being blissfully happy despite having three tests the next day.
But all the lasts have come and gone. Quickly, too quickly: the last rehearsal, the last “A” tuned to 441, the last 15 17 11 and the last metallic slam of the locker door. Although my hands fumble and my vision blurs, I must now cut the thread and tie a knot. I am finished. I cannot change what I have already made.
One day, though, in that future where I have a desk job, a golden retriever, and two kids, I will find the faded quilt in my closet, buried under heaps of memories. It’ll have become soft with age, and I will bunch up the familiarity and bury myself in its sweet mustiness. The nostalgia will descend in an overwhelming flood, yet I will, by then, have long forgotten the tests and grades and apathetic teachers and embarrassments and how to get to C hall. I will have long forgotten inside jokes and gossip and the names of my friends’ friends. But I will still remember orchestra; the quilt may lose its colors, but it will never, ever fall apart.