Heat and exhaustion consume my body

January 14, 2008
Heat and exhaustion consume my body
while pride and anticipation well up within.
From the corner of my eye I see a signal
and I begin the long walk ahead of me.
Ahead I see my comrades, my friends, my family.

We take our first step forward,
left, right, left, right.
Our feet a perfect unison, our faces a hardened stare.
As we enter the stadium a dull roar is heard
in the background of my slow-motion perception,
but I concentrate only on the drum behind me,
left, right, left, right.

Our feet sweep the grass,
gathering the dew that has begun to form as night falls.
We pass one yardline, then another,
making our way to the 50.
So close, yet so far away.

As we reach the center of the field,
we break to our opening sets
and hold a static position of attention.

At a motion from front-field,
we snap our horns up,
our tools of emotion,
our instruments of adrenaline.

My heart races, my mind goes blank.
I see nothing, I hear nothing, I feel nothing.
All that exists lies in front of me,
waving a baton.

In an instant, my immobile body bursts to life,
a joyous fanfare flows from my lips.
All at once I am surrounded by sound.

It is the sound of hard days in the sun,
it is the sound of long days in the cold.
It is the sound of injury,
of argument,
of recovery
and of reconciliation.

It is the sound of pain,
it is the sound of pride.
It is the sound of shame,
it is the sound of glory.

It is the sound of friends,
of teammates,
of a family. My family.

My body moves, unconscious of the day's pain.
I think of nothing. My fingers know where to go,
I have no need to tell them.

All too late and yet too soon,
we are playing the final chord.
The sound of dedication and sacrifice
rings from the surrounding stadium,
accompanied by the resonating chords
of accomplishment and astonishment.

My horn lowers, my eyes close
and I stand for a moment and think
about what just happened.

In the last 8 minutes, I have gone through
every emotion I can imagine.
I have put my body through rigorous tasks of endurance,
my muscles have ached and gasped for air,
while my lungs have dutifully pushed it through my horn.

Yet here I stand, bewildered and satisfied,
my hard work has paid off.
The crowd is on their feet,
hands are in the air,
cheers are heard from all around.

But with a single beat of a drum,
everything disappears.
Nothing is any longer important
but the pulse of one drum,
left, right, left, right.

Huddled around our director,
our counselor, our friend,
we are at last ordered, "Halt!"
We pause for a moment, a minute, a lifetime.
We wait. Bodies tremble, be it from exhaustion or excitement.
Finally, we are told to relax.

Our hats come off,
revealing the drenched messes of hair underneath.
Brows are wiped, high-fives are given, and words are said.

The words, however, are not important.
What is important is the feeling that I feel right now,
and the feeling I'll have years from now when
I look back and wish I could do it all again.

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