So I have thesaurus.com open right now so I can pick the best descriptive adjectives for UMass Homecoming 2010. Amazing was my first pick but awesome, fascinating, incredible, and marvelous work well too!
I got to see so many old friends and old friends. There were a lot of firsts as well. First time I have marched in 14 years and first time I was on the old practice field in 11 years (I had to quit marching due to a back problem in 1997 but was still on staff for two years). Every time I was pooped or in pain, I told myself, "You used to do this every day for years and loved it" to help psych myself up. Weirdly enough, a lot of my euphonium playing came back to me! I got a concert baritone horn to march from the incredibly generous Chicopee high school that loaned the band instruments (bless you and thank you Chicopee). I was placed in the alumni block next to a fellow Euph who was next to me back in the day anyways. As we joked and chuckled our way through morning practice, a memory came back to me. I turned to her and said, "Hey, didn't we use to crack each other so much that we had someone assigned to march between us?" Same old people and same old rhythms gotta love it! There were odd moments that I swore I heard George Parks' voice instructing us through the long-ranger but it was just my sense memory messing with me.
The Celebration of George Parks' life in the Mullins Center was a good mixture of funny and heartbreaking. I remembered so many new GNP stories as I heard speakers' reminiscences. Then it was time to go over to the Band tailgate near the stadium and yet another slew of old friends to greet and several tiny new mini-me friends (SO DARN CUTE!) The food was absolutely amazing thanks to UMass catering - tons of local fresh produce. It started ominously clouding over and the wind picked up. Uh oh, memories of my freshman season where it rained almost every weekend and the woodwinds barely played came rushing back to me.
By the time we were situated in the stadium, it felt like the temperature had dropped another 10 degrees and my toes were numb (lovely old back problem flaring up). But when we took the field, the clouds parted and the sun shone on the over 900 alumni plus 300 baby band. Some of us said that George was looking out for us weather-wise. We did him proud and I was able to get out a couple correct notes here and there.
On the drive back to my brother's place this song was on the radio
That was when it finally hit me that Mr. Parks is really gone so yeah there were tears over this cheesy song. It was probably the song and the fact that I was able to rest after a hectic day in the quiet of my car.
But I also remembered the song being really popular back when my band sorority and fraternity were setting up a convention at UMass. It was on the radio all the time for that week. That was another incredible and marvelous aspect of the weekend. Back in the day, I had my own little family through the sorority/fraternity. Both my big brother and big sister were there, almost all my "siblings" and then 2 of my "littles". So it was a family Homecoming too. The people who I got silly with, drunk with, lived with, and cried on their shoulders were there. All the nerves and anxiety about coming back evaporated when I saw their familiar faces.
After halftime and when I got home I was sore aka afflicted, bruised,raw, tender and, chafed. Ugh, so old and so out of shape! Advil took care of most of it but man, I completely wrecked my lips. Even now they are raw and swollen. Do you think adult euphonium lessons are offered anywhere? Gotta build up my chops... Oh yeah, I am coming back next year along with hopefully 999 other alumni!