Twilight Sheen

I ended up taking a brisk walk around the neighborhood this evening, just before dusk. I’d strapped on my iPod, and the first podcast I queued up was On The 50 (a weekly podcast of drum corps opinion), and I’m sure that affected my mood on some level.

As I finished my first lap around the neighborhood, I’d also finished the podcast. The sky was that particular shade of blue that means the sun has set, and that it’s going to be very dark in about five minutes. The stars had begun to come out, and a light breeze was cooling the sheen of sweat I’d managed to accumulate. Circles of light pooled under the streetlamps, spilling over curbs onto the street.

I queued up another podcast as I started my second lap, but my brain was still focused on a memory. Drum corps in the mid 90’s.

Some people say that the smell of diesel fumes takes them back to their drum corps days. For me, it’s nights like this. Slightly sweaty from the exertions of the day, still alert and active, but watching the world around you close up shop for the night.

Sitting on a campus hillside, alone with my mellophone, trying to get that one lick right. Over and over and over, until my fingers and my breath and my embouchure finally coordinate in a moment of eureka, and the sixteenth-note run sounds clear and firm, echoing back across the hills and buildings.

Crouching on a curb outside a high school, eating one last snack of pudding (courtesy of the chuck truck), and contemplating whether to take an early shower and beat the rush.

Standing with the hornline on the practice field, straining to see the drum major’s white gloves hovering in the darkness, as he leads us through warm-down exercises for our tired chops. Wishing for a lighted field. (Not knowing I would wish otherwise when I made it into a bigger corps, and practices went even later, when local noise ordinances allowed.)

Listening to a tuba player strum the guitar as we all sit indian-style on the sidewalk, and listening to stream-of-consciousness lyrics flowing from the drummer beside him. Singing scat improv when the guitarist throws the vocals up for grabs. Laughing with amusement and approval when someone fetches an empty plastic trash can from inside the school and flips it upside-down, adding a drum to the mix.

Most of my good memories I left on the field, be they practices or performances… but some of the quiet evening moments were pleasant ones, too. It was a nice change of pace to actually remember that.