Chapter 2:

2 Worlds, 2 Dreams; 2/4

My other World

As it had turned out, the middle school that I went to had lost the list of extra-curricular classes that I wanted to take over the next three years. Because of that, they put me in the middle school’s Symphonic band, filled to the brim with classical instruments such as the tuba, French horn, clarinet, and most importantly, the flute. When you think of Beethoven, you think of a band similar to this (with the exception of string instruments, such as the violin). After a year of the class, I’d had enough fun to want to continue with the program, eventually getting into the better band in the school and practicing as much as I could to improve the God-awful sounds coming through the windpipe that was my flute.

But unlike a lot of middle schools in the state, our music program was intertwined with the nearby high school’s music program, that school being Summerville High School. One day in late August, a lot of members of the band came during our class to pitch the Marching Band season to us, and then we were invited a month later to their last half-time show, being performed during the last football game their high school was playing. The teacher said over eighty students came to perform for us, and man… did it feel like it.

Energetic trumpets. Supportive flutes. A group of all-star percussionists that made the beats surrounding us feel like they were pulsing into our skulls and bones. I definitely had enough fun hearing the newer pop music they played to warrant me going on the trip, but to top it all off… My crush at the time, Destiny, was also going on the trip. This field trip was now a MUST.

Now before this, I had absolutely no idea what a ‘Marching Band’ did, or why it mattered. While a symphonic band plays music that can create classical emotions, taking inspiration from and evolving upon the works of Bach, Mozart, and much more, a Marching Band is basically a ‘hype man’ for whatever sport they’re supporting. They show up, chill out in the stands, and cheer wildly with music when their home team scores a point. I know some teams also make annoying noises to distract the other team, but I hadn’t experienced that within the Marching Band community within my town and surrounding areas.

Our middle school teacher even showed us videos of the Marching Band from her college performing to get us into the mood for the field trip, as the tone and style of the music they played was so out of the range that we were used to.

And so we get there, and the night is perfect. By the middle of October, which was the only Football game that we could attend, the weather was chill and comforting; in other words, perfect for a night on freezing metal sports stands.

But even if the stands were freezing, the band made sure we were anything but. They performed in the stands, they danced, they talked with us visitors, and overall worked hard to be the ‘hype men’ that I’d described them earlier. The only thing I was slightly annoyed with was the repetition of the music over the space of the long night, but that would soon change.

One of the biggest events that Marching Bands are known for (especially when it comes to sporting events) is the half-time show. The half-time show is when the Marching Band takes the field and performs an 8 to 12-minute show encompassing the music they play in the stands. Most bands use that time to hype up the audience, creating a show filled with energizing pop songs that use their concert instruments to the fullest, along with a little song and dance.

The Summerville High School Marching Band wasn’t like them; they were a Corps-style. That basically meant that they focused less on energizing the audience, and more on creating a unique, memorable show. The best way to compare the normal type of band with a Corps-style would be to compare a street performer to a play. A street performer tries his best to leave you dazzled every second they have your eyes, because they have to. A play, on the other hand, will purposefully spend time building up emotions such as anticipation, contemplation, and catharsis.

In other words, a Corps-style Marching Band is eager to tell a story in everything they do. Their show that year was called ‘The Wild, Wild West’, and all four songs they played was imbued with the styling and theming of the American Wild West, with music that resembled the iconic movie and story moments such as the ‘Stand-down at Noon’ and ‘Cowboys and Natives’.

When I watched them perform, it was almost as though I could see the stand-down happening through the music. I was taken to this place where my imagination roamed free, and the adventures the music was trying to take me on pulled me in at full force. Horse-riding, shooting pistols in a Saloon, the wild life the men and women led… I could see it all in my head, and the magic of their half-time performance kept me entertained through all of it’s nine minute run.

And who else showcased that off more than the Drum Major?

They were the student leaders who helped the band perform where the teachers that were in charge could not. This band was student-led from the moment they hit the grassy fields, and the people who kept it all together were the Drum Majors.

They were everything I wanted to be: strong, confident, skilled, and respected. Just watching them help their band as the half-time show went on, I thought, ‘There’s no way I could do that. It seems like too much pressure, and I would never be good enough at that to handle any pressure on me’. And that made me want to become them even more. If there was some way, any way, that I could become that kind of person, then I’d race towards that with all of my hopes, and all of my spirit.

On the way back, I even got to sit next to Destiny on the bus, but all I was talking about was the Drum Majors.

“You should have seen him!” I exclaimed. “He just walked around like he was some sort of superhero or something!”

“And so you think you can do it?” She questioned. “That you can become a Drum Major one day?”

“Of course not!” Despite the clear indication of failure, I held a great, big smile on my face. She gave me a questioning look.

“What do you mean?”

“I mean… of course I don’t think I can do it, but it’s my dream. I have to try.”

The bell for the end of lunch was going to ring in just a few minutes by the time I finished filling out the form for student leadership. If I turned in the form before lunch ended, then I still had a spot for me to continue my path forward, my dream forward, and become a Drum Major for the Summerville High School Marching Band. I could still achieve that goal, that version of myself that I wanted those three or so years ago.

But at the same time… I felt as though I just had undeniable proof that I wouldn’t be good as one. Just because people want things doesn’t give them the right to proclaim they have the same shot as someone who could actually deserve it… like Destiny, for example. I had so much respect for her, and seeing how much she’s grown and matured since middle school, I felt that she would make a much better Drum Major than myself.

And no matter what choice I made, in a few moments… the bell was going to ring.

. . . . .

The final bell for the school day echoed through the beige brick halls of Summerville High School. At the front of the school, a large roadway made specifically to pick up some of the many students was packed with cars trying to get in and get out as quickly as possible. I didn’t have my own car by that point, so I was just waiting around at the edge of the line, where my mom would usually show up within a quick time frame, if things didn’t get too hectic trying to get on and off campus.

“Hey, Jay!” Looking over to the entrance to the school, Destiny ran over to me with a nervous-but-energetic courtesy. “Did you decide if you were going to turn in the form or not?”

“Yeah, I decided… ” I spoke up, now with the gap between us nearly gone. “I didn’t turn in the form. I realized that I just didn’t feel like I could do what I’d dreamed of when I first saw the Marching Band, you know? Especially after seeing Drum Majors work first hand, and knowing people that would make better leaders in the band… like you.”

Her eyes bulged, almost awe-struck at my reasoning.

“Did… did I never tell you why I wanted to become Drum Major?”

“Huh? Why?”

“Oh shit, I never told you.”

“What do you mean, ‘Oh shit’, what didn’t you tell me?”

As the world moved around us, students trying to get home from stressful days, or getting to prepare for those days to come, Destiny put her hand on my shoulder.

“It was you, you dumbass.”


“I remember that day, back in middle school, when we went on that field trip to see the Marching Band play. It was so much fun… and I thought at the time you seemed like you weren’t enjoying yourself, and you were all alone, so I sat with you on the bus ride home… and there was this spark in you. I remember sitting next to you that night and thinking, ‘Wow, I’ve never met someone as impassioned and dedicated as this quiet, nobody kid right next to me’.

“And I wasn’t even planning to go to this school, but then I wanted to give their Marching Band a shot, and I knew that I’d make a good leader too… but I also knew that it’d be great if one day I could stand next to this crazy, passionate, confident, respectful, and talented kid that I saw grow up from nothing, you know? And I could stand next to him and say, ‘That’s my Drum Major’.”

I was… stunned. I didn’t know what to say, and I couldn’t even move. The chaos, the hustle of those around me, including the cars, all stopped. I looked into Destiny’s eyes, and all I could see…

Was myself.

“Shit.” I said.


“Shit!” I said again, this time more passionate than the last. And without hesitation, or fear that I was running away from something, I turned back to the school… and just started sprinting.

. . . . .

“You can’t… I’m sorry.” Mr. Friedman gave me a sympathetic look, before placing the application back on the table. “I can hold onto it just in case there’s an opening, but we got a lot more applications then I was expecting, especially after I allowed Freshman to try out. If I let you in alongside them… you’d probably just be helping three other kids move parking cones out on the practice field, and that’d be more of a disservice to you than me.”

“Yeah, you can just keep it.” I pushed my hand out in front of his. “Thanks for letting me know.”

I attempted to leave his office, but he cleared his throat with a frustrated tone. “Then just one question before you go… Why didn’t you turn it in before?”

“I didn’t realize someone was waiting for me.”

. . . . .

“And so you think you can do it?”

I couldn’t stop hearing it in my head.

“I mean… of course I don’t think I can do it, but it’s my dream. I have to try.”

I just wanted it to stop.

Lying in my bed, I tried to cover my eyes and ears with my pillow, but the memories kept flooding back into my brain.

“Wow, I’ve never met someone as impassioned and dedicated as this quiet, nobody kid right next to me.”

They just wouldn’t leave my mind. The only way they would go is if I was someone else completely. At least that way, the life I’d lived was so far adjacent from what I was going through right then, that I wouldn’t even be thinking about it. I could escape from my failure, my objectives failures as Jay Moreno, and become someone new. It didn’t have to be a hero… but I just didn’t want to feel like the villain anymore.

And then I opened my eyes again.