debaseinstallPersonal Reflections

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This past Sunday morning I stepped off the plane in Tampa from a long, but glorious weekend in Raleigh, judging the Atlantic Indoor Association’s circuit championships. As is every championships weekend in every circuit and every year, there is a collective feeling of exhaustion that comes from a year’s worth of passion and emotion, balled up into one weekend together. When I walked out of the jetway into the bright lights of Gate C, on an early Sunday morning, my Ipod which was on shuffle played Barbara Streisand’s, “Somewhere.” I heard the dissonant sound of the opening chords and thought, “Wow. Here I am back in the real world and all I really want to do is go back to somewhere.” 
There’s a place for us. Somewhere a place for us.
Peace and quiet and open air
Wait for us somewhere.

When I go through my life, I look for and believe in signs. I don’t believe the universe makes mistakes. So when “Somewhere” started playing as soon as I stepped into the light, I felt like it was trying to speak to me. You can call me the crazy lady channeling Shirley Mclaine or you can just go with me on this little journey of mine. 
There’s something about Championships weekend that allows you to keep going, even though you want to collapse. It’s the adrenaline, the stress, the sadness, the happiness, and the passion all wrapped into one 48 hour period. It’s rare in life to experience that much emotion in one short time frame. The dopamine levels of the brain must be off the charts during a championships weekend, because only with that much dopamine could the brain allow so much focus, stamina, and vigor. It’s no wonder that so many people report struggling at work after a weekend of such immense pleasure. It’s almost like being in love. You don’t sleep or eat. You can stay up all night and the body’s response allows you to keep pushing through, even though you mind says, “It’s time to stop.” After a long day at the show, doing whatever it is your job is to make the day special, there is always this feeling of not wanting to let it go. You linger after retreat just a little bit longer and hang out in the hotel lobby not wanting to say goodbye. 
When I watched the kids walking on the floor for retreat, I just wanted to hold on to that moment. An entire season of intense passion was about to come to an end. As a judge, it’s important for me to see that moment. I need that reminder of why we do it. I need to see the kids with their balloons and flowers. I need to see every kid I judged that day just one more time, all together standing for a common goal. 
While watching them, I wanted to tell them something. I wanted to say, “Remember this. Don’t let it go.” Because as the song says,…there’s a place for us. When life gets scary, you can come back here. It’s our place. We are waiting. Every judge cares. Every contest staff member. Every alumnus. 
There’s a time for us. Someday there’ll be a time for us.  Time together with time to spare. Time to learn, time to care. Someday, somewhere.
When I go away for a color guard weekend, I leave all my real world stress behind. There are no politics to debate and the cruelty of life is halted if only for a moment. We are one. There’s not another place in my life that I can find where so many people come together for one common goal and it’s never more apparent than retreat at championships. Win or lose, I never see the kids leave the floor angry. There is only joy. 
We’ll find a new way of living. We’ll find there’s a way of forgiving.

A new way of living. I believe that when I was born, the universe gave me this gift of pageantry and it would be wrong to not do something with it. Whether it’s the one kid who only got one year or us middle aged idiots that come back year after year, it’s our way of living. There’s a peace to it that comes from the honesty you share when you create with another human being. Your heart goes into these shows and only in that level of honesty can you truly find peace. I never take for granted the emotion the kids share with us from the cadet guard through the world guard. It’s real and I often wish all of life could be that honest. I wish in my real life I could be as real as I am in the gym.

Somewhere. There’s a place for us. A time and a place for us. 

At championships I always want to tell the kids that this is your time. Enjoy it and cherish it. Don’t waste it! I often wonder if any of them realize that this place of passion and honesty, is rare. In life people hate and they are mean. People do things that are not in the best interest of mankind. People lie and they are hurtful. Life is cruel, but in this world we call winter guard, there’s a fervor of love that is surpassed by almost nothing you will find in the rest of the world. 

Hold my hand and we’re half way there. Hold my hand and I’ll take you there. 

Some of the best people I know are in this activity. We have held each other’s hands in our darkest hours of life. We’ve cried together and laughed until our sides hurt. I feel that when I’m with them I’m a better person. We look out for each other and the bond only gets stronger throughout life. There are people I see only once a year and it’s like time has stood still waiting for our moment to come back around. Time is endless in this activity and I just inherently believe at the end of each season, that I’ll see everyone again. Real life seems to stop in this amalgam of seasons and we are able to focus on what’s important…each other.

Somehow. Someday. Somewhere.
In the movie West Side Story the song “Somewhere” is sung to relay this message that there is a time and place where we will all find peace with our fellow man. The bickering will stop and life will become tranquil. We will be as one. It’s Championships retreat when I am reminded of that feeling. There is so much boundless joy that it often makes me cry. 
As the kids were walking on the floor for retreat, I was immediately taken aback by this image I had. In my minds eye, I saw a snow globe. I saw a world we have created for ourselves that allows for creativity, healthy dialog, friendship, passion, devotion, and emotion. In that snow globe are kids growing up to appreciate one another. The adults pass the knowledge on and value the lives of the kids entrusted in their care. This snow globe explores music and art. Color is endless. People work as one. Everyone is beautiful.
So, as I place my snow globe of 2015 on the mantel and shake it one last time, I see memories of the past falling down as the snow and as the kids look up to catch just one flake, they take their place in the history books of this world we call winter guard.