Day 49: Somewhere in Illinois
It’s starting to hit everyone that our team is going to be breaking up soon. It’s kinda really sad.
Today we got back into the swing of rehearsal/show days. I’ve become really good friends with the bass tech here. I spent the morning helping him put new heads and foaming. I actually learned a lot of cool, which was awesome. I definitely got to another level of understanding teaching marching percussion just from being around the educational staff here.
It was also just nice to get to do drum world things for a change. I know some of the guys hate to do head changes and stuff, but I find it relaxing.
I made avocado wraps from the food I bought on the Walmart run a couple of days ago, I shared them with the bassline. I was made honorary bass 6. They’re awesome friends and I’m so excited to have them in my life even after this tour is over.
After my morning in drum world, I fixed the 500 year old sewing machine and took a nap to prepare for my awake shift on the bus tonight. We’re headed to Minneapolis. That’s pretty cool.
Day 50: Minneapolis, Minnesota
Because it was such a long drive and we got in so late, we got floor time until 11am, but here’s the fantastic thing: I woke up at 10, not because I set an alarm or anything but because my body wanted to wake up.
I went with John (our bass tech), Stephanie, and Katie (one of the bass drummers) to Caribou coffee. It was a mile walk away but we ran into like 15 other Crossmen people who evidentially felt the same way we did.
Caribou was even better than the stuff they sell in stores (duh) and they had Nitro Cold Press which is somehow another level even greater than cold brew. Life is good.
I got to know Katie a lot better than I ever had. She’s awesome. She plays bottom bass and she kicks butt. I’ve always been kind of intimidated by her but it turns out we actually have tons in common.
Rehearsal Block was only 3 hours. I sewed some uniforms and went on a run with Stephanie. I took a shower. Woo.
I hung out with the color guard staff on the way to our show. A couple of them live in Ohio so they were giving me all of the suggestions of fun hangout places nearby. Also we sang a lot of ridiculous music.
Today was our first big regional. Tons of groups were there. I saw Blue Devils live for the first time ever. Their shows have this theatrical quality that no other group does. I also saw a Morehead pal who is teaching a group from Wisconsin so it was nice to catch up.
We ended the day with a Midwest bass hang. It was super fun seeing all of the friends that I’ve met over the past few years in one place. This little world is pretty cool.
Day 53: Gosh Dang (Marshalltown) Iowa
Today was very busy. I sewed a lot of things and did a full uniform laundromat run and did a science project on the costume masks. Also, a mom brought dairy-free whipped cream for the allergy kids at snack and let me tell you, my first experience with whipped cream did not disappoint.
More importantly, today was Stephanie’s last day and that makes me extremely sad. This girl has become one of the most influential people in my life. I’ve never met a female that I’ve related to so much and because of that, we’ve been able to challenge eachother to become better friends and better humans. She’s my best friend here and we’re always down for hooligan things. Everyone knows we’re the power team for happiness.
Today I got sentimental about coming home. I’m so excited to see my family and back in a stable environment but after adjusting to this lifestyle, it’s crazy to leave it all before the entire team is finished. It’s crazy to go into these last days which are flying by, knowing that the summer adventure I will remember for the rest of my life is about to be over.
Day 54: Johnstown, Iowa
Stephanie left me with a giant bubble stick so I wouldn’t be sad when she left. My bus seat is way too empty without her.
Doing a show without her was weird. I went to go look for her multiple times. Shenanigans and sprints to the nearest local coffee shop are not fun solo.
Iowa is the worst. (No offense to the state...but seriously this week is sad and hot and humid and everything is in the middle of nowhere and I don't think cell towers exist)
Day 55: Oh look! Still Iowa.
I sewed for 11 hours today. I feel pretty accomplished. Normally I’d be exhausted with sewing that much, but after Stephanie left, it was nice to have a day where I could just sit in my little corner.
I realized I had literally no idea what was happening in the world, so I listened to 8 NPR podcasts. I also aggressively ran laps to destress.
Let me take this moment to say that Iowa is the worst. It’s humid for no reason and hot and smells like corn and really there’s no reason to be this lame.
During EPL, we walked to a Hy-Vee Grocery and I got bananas and avocados and limes. I’m so ready to eat real food again. (We did have an awesome grilled chicken and veggie dinner tonight. Shoutout to the food crew.) The kids have to carb up like athletes training 14 hours a day...and I’m eating the same as them...but without the 14 hours of training. Staff fat is real.
Tonight our show got cancelled because of rain and we couldn’t park our food truck anywhere because the show site closed down and our housing was 5 hours away. So we went to Walmart for a "get whatever you want for dinner" food run.
Katie and I may or may not have opened up a Taco stand in the front of the bus and made $20 tonight.
We finally said Byeowa to our favorite state tonight.
Day 58 : Northern Illinois University
Today started as a gross rainy day. The fields were flooded. I unloaded a billion juices in the rain. I did random projects all day and had a chop out session with the pit, who also couldn’t really do anything.
I watched a movie on the hour and a half bus ride to the show site. I haven’t watched a movie in a while. That was cool.
Our plumes are a dark grey that fades into white at the top. A kid lost his plume and didn't tell us until we got to the show site. We didn’t have any extras so I had to dig through the cargo trailer; find a plain white plume; pull out card board, black spray paint, and an XL volunteer shirt to protect my clothes; and there I sat in the field behind the football stadium, spray painting this thing of feathers on a stick to look like the perfectly machine-made other plumes.
When we were at the show, I caught up with one of my old instructors from high school who is on admin at Blue Stars. Hearing her admin stories was awesome because I realized that every drum corps has a team of people with a life as ridiculous as mine.
There was a Sonic down the road from our show site. We had 2 hours after the show, so some friends and I walked there. It was great. I finally spilled some of my fears about going home and they gave me a pep talk that I definitely needed to hear. Also slushees will never fail to cheer me up.
After we got back, I helped the food crew pack up. While I was making the hike to the corps dumpsters, it started torrentially down-pouring. By the time I got back to the bus, I was soaked to the bone so I grabbed my conditioner and hair brush and Katie and I washed our hair in the rain. It actually felt great. We had dry towels and clothes to change into once we got back on the bus and I now feel fresh and clean on the bus ride.
I’m writing all of this from my last bus ride ever. We’re halfway through a 5 hour trip to St Louis (ish). It’s crazy that I’m already missing some of the most ridiculous conditions. It feels like a weird survival mode way of life, but in a way that’s almost the fun. I don't know how exactly to explain it. I’m excited to come home but it’s so weird to think about not being here while everyone else still is. I’m worried about all my babies (who are older than me...)
Day 59: St. Louis
I woke up to the coldest gym I’ve ever experienced in my entire life...all my sleep-deprived brain could focus on was the fact that the next time I woke up, I’d be at home in my bed and this whole thing would be over.
I’m so excited to come home and be a part of those adventures again. I miss home. It’s just all so weird.
Today was awesome in some ways. I woke up and had Starbucks with a couple admin as my going away meal. Then I spent all day organizing my (now old) jobs and packing my things. I divided up the things I was leaving with my friends and then watched the last hour of rehearsal.
Andrew and I walked to Starbucks for our last coffee time (yes, the coffee count keeps going). He gave me a pep talk about adjusting to home life again.
The show logistics were a hawt mess. It's an actual regional so tons of corps at this show. It is a mad house. The tour director has been swamped with logistical nightmares. There is a literal circus across the street. I got in an elevator with a man on a tricycle.
But...because it was a huge show, I saw lots of old friends. I love the people in this activity.
I ended up at post-show dinner completely coincidentally with the 4 members who mean the most to me in this group. I am so beyond grateful for them in my life.
I signed off on the member buses and said my (emotional) goodbyes with the staff.
I didn’t cry until I watched the Crossmen buses pull out of the parking lot.
Then I cried.
It’s such a weird thing to think about. Not that long ago, 60 days felt infinite. I didn’t think I’d ever make it out of San Antonio. Every day stretched forever but somehow it’s over. Every day was full of obstacles and no night was ever long enough or full of enough sleep and yet here I was at the end of it all, trying to figure out why I was sad to leave, trying to figure out if going home was really a possibility and if any of it had happened at all.
I lived in a headspace where I thought everything was a dream for my first 3 weeks in San Antonio, but now I feel the same way about home existing. Moving across the country day in and day out, the only constant I had was the group of people that came with me so I can’t possibly be going somewhere without them now?
I sat in a McDonalds at 1am with a local Crossmen admin who was kind enough to stay with me while I waited for my red-eye flight. We talked about my existential thoughts. I facetimed Stephanie. I ate not-food-truck food and continued to convince myself that drum corps actually happened.
I made it to the airport, sat on the floor, wrapped in my blankets, listening to the airport playlist created by a combination of the music of some of my favorite people. I met the director of Mandarins Drum Corps while waiting in the security line. I slept through my first flight, took a nap during my layover, and caught the sunrise as my plane flew over the Kentucky bluegrass.
I grabbed my things and climbed up the escalator into the arms of my mom.
After 60 days here, there, and everywhere,
I was home.