Rita's Story

Rita Chan

I can’t believe it’s over. I half-expect someone to ask me if I’m going to join again, or tell me what great music “we” will be playing this year. But that’s not going to happen…and right now I can’t decide if I’m more relieved or more regretful.

I’m surprised to find that it’s actually kind of hard to let go. I think there will be many things I will miss. I’ll miss the smell of bus exhaust on warm summer nights…having someone map out my whole day for me, meals included…the rush of adrenaline right before we step off the line… playing in the pit…holding hands in an arc as we wait to hear our score on finals night. I think I might even miss being drum major.

Of course, there are a lot of things I know I won’t miss — cold showers in slimy stalls…cramped bus seats…getting sunburned three times a year. I definitely won’t miss the running block.

Now that it’s finally over, though, I know that I appreciate all the memories — the good as well as the bad. I think I’ve grown up a lot since I first joined at the age of 14. I’ve gone from thinking I knew everything to knowing that I don’t know anything. I think that’s a pretty good sign of maturity…or at least the beginning of it.

As I leave my life with the Mandarins behind, I almost feel like I’m starting a new era of my life in a world that is a little rougher and not quite as well mapped out. It’s kind of exciting and scary at the same time… kind of like when I first joined the Mandarins. I guess things really do come full circle.

Thanks for the opportunities, the experiences, and the laughs. And thanks for those memories and the friendships. I think I’m going to hang on to those just a little longer.

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