Now it’s over. Two-tenths of a point dropped to third place, but it is all right because I am now a stronger performer and a stronger person. In June, we started a show 16 counts late… we were going nowhere and now here we are (at DCI). I’m not sure that anyone knew what we were capable of back then, or now for that matter, performance-wise or when you put us together in a miniscule locker room and say “Get clean and get along.”
The total meaning of Tour fails to hit you when you are on your first practice field in Greenville, or buying 75-cent Klondike Bars in the town store. The first show passes by in a flurry of frenzy and excitement. The East Coast weather is both a rush and an inhibitor. A performance in the rain is exhilarating — the water isn’t just on you, but seeps into you and energizes the performer. Endless running and walking, jumping and dancing, and no one lets down.
In Marion, we faced a car lot and performed to the telephone wires above it, and by then most of us still weren’t sure exactly what we were doing this for. The only chance to be lonely is a long bus ride, but the call for company is heard often enough. Friendships are coming up everywhere, growing all the time. The hornline member you have barely greeted twice becomes a trusted confidante. For the most part, it is brother and sister, and by unspoken agreement you can turn to anyone, anytime. Whatever the problem, there will always be someone to listen, because everyone has their days, and our days are all the same.
On a beautiful beach somewhere in Maine, we all go our separate ways, and there is content in the way he touches a shell, or in the way she carves her name in the pier. I cross the bridge of hopes and dreams and add my wish to the lot. Staring at the pool of shiny coins, my mind wanders back, picking out the highlights of our trip’s trials and triumphs, and stops on a scene that took place just this morning, on that beautiful beach somewhere in Maine.
Through the haze of rain and mist and tears, individuals are beginning to say goodbye to the last two and a half weeks. We are standing on a rock posing for the moment, creating one more memory. And soon we will be walking away from it, far, far away. Walking back to family and school and laughter and problems just as before, but this time with the knowledge that we are outstanding — we are successful, and it wouldn’t be so if we didn’t have each other.
In 1999, Courtney wrote:
“I haven’t been back to Sacramento in the longest time, but with graduation right before me and all that sentimental reflection that goes with it, I thought of you and want to say Thank You.”
“At a recent conference, I was asked to define the single most life-shaping experience in my past. Without hesitation, I responded, Mandarins. I proceeded to tell tales of 10-hour rehearsal days, tour, discipline, self-discovery, individuality and teamwork, talent, strength, accomplishment, confidence, and ambition. The will to strive toward excellence. It shaped my very being and has fueled my success here at school.”
“I hope the kids are milking Mandarins for the many things it has to offer them!! Most importantly, thank you for perpetuating a tradition that has a lifelong impact on the kids that pass through it. I am so grateful!”
With Aloha, Courtney