Schoolyard Ghosts

First of all, I lifted the title of this entry from this album by No-Man. As many of you are aware, I have a pretty big musical crush on Steven Wilson, front-man of Porcupine Tree and purveyor of countless side projects. No-Man is one of them, comprised of him and one other guy. Schoolyard Ghosts is the only album of theirs that I own and, instrumentally, it’s very simple for a Steven Wilson project. I’ve found that it’s a very good album to listen to while driving in the rain, as its weird nostalgic mood seems to fit the surroundings.

Which brings us to the now.

In the standstill I’ve been at for the months since graduation, I’ve inevitably been thinking about when things weren’t at a standstill. It’s weird, being done with school for the first time in my life. Yes, I may go back for a Master’s at some point, but that point isn’t right now or in the coming months, and thus I am, for the time being, done with school. I went non-stop through grade school and college, and then moved back in with my parents in the house and city I was born and raised in. It’s not that I was depressed or anything, I just wished for life to not change pace so abruptly. I want for the melancholy nostalgia to wait to visit me until I’m an old old man and have more hidden away memories to relive.

I ate lunch with Reece, an old drumline compatriot and freshman-year roommate, and Amy, my private lesson teacher from high school. Amy was always outrageously supportive of whatever I did and seemed to get me in a way that most others didn’t, pushing me to take the strangest solos each year because, as she said, she didn’t know when another student would come along that might pick one of them. After chowing down on some Chinese food by Jasper, Reece decided to text Mike, our drumline instructor from high school, to let him know I was leaving. Mike then said he’d be at Jasper, so we stopped by. I very briefly explained to Mike what it was I will be doing in Nashville, and then he motioned to the collected 9th and 10th graders, about to have their drumline rehearsal, and asked if I’d like to talk to them about what I’m doing and what I’ve done.

I reluctantly agreed, and then so did Reece, and Mike introduced us while I thought all the while how very Mike of him that was. He could be extremely spur-of-the-moment, which was sometimes a wonderful thing. And so I stood in front of thirty or so high schoolers I’d never met before and explained my experiences, starting with my decision to commit my life and soul to drumline and ending with my decision to leave behind all that I know and live in a new state. Mike had told us to be as honest as we could be, but as I spoke I found it hard to fault drumline for much. Sure, there were the sometimes stupidly long hours we spent on single measures of music, or the uncalled-for yelling that frequently punctuated our rehearsals, but all of that can be chalked up to the hunt for perfection and unchecked testosterone.

Truth is, I loved drumline. I loved high school largely because I loved drumline. Without drumline, I’m sure my high school band would have gone a little further than it did, but I’m also sure I would have been more frequently bored and probably dreaded the whole public schooling experience. I didn’t sleep much, drummed a lot, and made more “that’s what she said” jokes than anyone ever should. But that’s how it went.

After Reece gave his own story, we followed Mike to Plano, where he gave us a tour of the new band hall. It was the first time since my graduation that I’d been at Plano during school hours. The hall was huge, the building was really nice, and everything seems to be going well for them. So then Reece and I sat while Mike had all of the drummers sing and made up one of his famous metaphors that at first seem incredibly irrelevant but soon begin to make sense.

I don’t talk much to most of my old drumline friends. Maybe it’s that when the drums and music fade away we didn’t have that much in common, but also life moves on and everyone’s got their own things to do. I don’t, and never have, believed it when people say your high school years are the best of your life, and while I only just now, three years after graduating, visited Plano during the day, I don’t shun my time there. Soon after my leaving there, my dad would ask me each time we drove past the school whether or not I missed it, and I truthfully never did and don’t. I got what I got out of the school and out of my time there, but life keeps rolling.


~ by Jonathan Forisha on September 28, 2011.

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