It was the spring of 7th grade, I was 12 years old, and my parents let me splurge for a jacket that told the world I WAS IN BAND. Royal blue satin with “City Hill Music” emblazoned on the back in canary yellow cursive silkscreen. My name in a matching, equally jolting sunshine on the front right breast. Snaps. I coveted those snaps. The privilege of joining and maintaining a spot in band wasn’t lost on me, as I played piano and was…eh. Not awful, but not great. And yet, my teacher still kept me there, present for every concert, jazz show, even marching band occasion. For parades, this piano player marched with a Casio SK-1, proudly through the streets of my hometown, playing along all the brass and woodwinds.
I found my people and my place. Band gave me confidence, for the first time, to give no fucks about what anyone else thought of me, my awkward shape, my gigantic hair, my yet-to-be-braced teeth, and adopting my own style of doing just about everything.
For some reason, back then, I used trips to the grocery store as my laboratory…my workshop to try new and, in my tween mind, ingenious experiments. Ohhh, the makeup, the heavy, blue, Crayola brand make up teamed up with a red, shiny, spandex unitard that began as the foundation of a devil halloween costume, topped off with some crazy oversized t-shirt (I recall one to which I was partial, with 3 bunnies), and always, the band jacket as the cherry on this fucked up crazypants cake. I literally wore my fearlessness on my sleeve which left no room for self doubt to settle in.
I miss her.
I did an awful lot of living in the age before kids and marriage and divorce and jobs and bills, before Facebook and Instagram, before I let all these other voices drowned out my own. I traveled. I loved, and lost, fiercely and without apology. I spoke my truth without regret. There’s no question, life is harder now, but not, like, recovering from a terminal illness or rebuilding after a tornado ripped through our neighborhood, hard. And yet, here I am, living my most careful, censored, reserved life.
12 year old me would NOT be pleased. She’d snatch that jacket away in a SECOND. Unacceptable, she’d say, through her many braces and with more sass than her spandex could hold.
As the year turned from old to new, I refused to make resolutions to become something different. Or changed. I will never be thin, or totally organized, or quiet, or stop yelling at my kids when they drag ass on the way out of the house, as I will forever be saying COMEEEEEEEEEONNNNNNNNNNNNNN LETS GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO WE’RE GONNA BE LAAAAAAAAATE, and I accept all of it. What I resolve to do is be MORE of myself, more genuine, more authentic, more loving, take bigger risks, explore, strut through this fabulous life I’ve created and speak my truth louder and without fear of retribution or judgement. I’ll call my Mother more and make plans to do manis and pedis with her. I’ll sing in front of another piano bar crowd in NYC. I’ll blog more and swear profusely and talk about how much I want Oprah to do whatever the hell she wants, whether it’s run for president or marry Gail. I won’t care how you think I parent my kids, or date your son, or cook my food, or keep my home. Or, if I do happen to give a shit about any of that, I’ll say something, or not, and I’ll sleep well at night because I’m me, honestly and completely, and that’s fucking amazing.
Now, don’t think I’ve gone off the deep end, and have given up all sense of decorum. I’ll still be here, all gushing about unicorn boyfriend and my fabulous kids, and all that. But expect way more detail and honesty. And swearing. And satin and snaps. And to hear my mumbling on repeat, in a low, monotone voice, “I. Don’t. Give. A. Shit.”
Band, y’all. It teaches us the life lessons that matter.