i remember my first time walking into the band room; i was amazed despite the small size-trophies in the corner, agiant weird piano-looking thing, agiant drum next to the smaller drum, four cabinets of instrument cases, a drumset, and a bunch of black chairs. at the front of the room was the podium-tho i didnt know it was called that atm-and behind it a whiteboard. motivational music posters lined the top of the walls, and by the door were pictures from previous years. the conductor/teacher, "miss S" was a bit short but still taller than me. she had bob-cut brown hair, and a kind of caringly-strict smile. the first week of school was like an expectations/schedule thing. the sixth grade band class is always big, so it was divided into two periods, and i was in fourth. lunch was fifth period. which was all the way across campus,, see, the band room wasnt really added until after the school finished construction, so it was on the outskirts of the campus while the cafeteria was on the farther lower side. i would speed walk just to make the lines in time. which wasnt that bad, now that i think about it?? i think its bc of my pet peeve of long lines, which i had and still have.. at the end of the week, after going over a little bit of the expectations for the room and instruments (no food and gum pls), miss S gave us a paper asking us what instrument we wanted to play. except,, the only instrument i knew was guitar, and when i had asked her about it, she had told me that guitar wasnt in concert band, but it WAS in jazz band! but sixth graders werent allowed to do jazz band yet,, i was a little sad, but ig i was a natural optimist cause i got over it real fast- i had basically forgotten how to read all music too, so i was like “ill just start over ig” i thought “im gonna do that slidey one bc thats the only other instrument ive kinda seen” i also thought it was called a trumpet. for all of you that dont do music-the “slidey thing” is the trombone, and the trumpet is the smaller one that is usually drawn really simply w/out all the pipes. yeah i think i just didnt do research back then. like ever,, my first choice, a surprise to people i tell irl nowadays, was trombone-ish-trumpet. my second was percussion! bc tbh i didnt wanna deal with mouth things. guess what i got? wait if youve read my 'about’ info dont guess i was placed in the percussion section! which tbh i was glad about (again bc mouthpiece thing) also i couldnt buzz in the first place so there wouldve been no point in doing brass- im not complaining tho! wouldnt be where i am w/out being put in the percussion section < 3 when our sections got finalized, i met my fellow fourth period percussionists for the first time: “zane”, a short and tan dude w/ glasses and a wicked smile, “kyle”, a pale guy from my elementary that was a little full of himself kinda, “paul”, a russian/ukraine guy that was the epitome of hilarious one-liners and “alex”, a short-ish dude w/ a weird ego. the rest of my first percussion friends were in the third period, so i didnt really meet or even realize they existed until seventh grade. as percussionists, we had different equipment than wind players-like character classes! so renting meant getting a tiny, portable bell kit and dragging it around to use it in class. mine was black and blue, and we got it from tims music. mom said the rent was high so id better not ruin it-i was like “OKAY!” we'll see its condition in the future,, it came w/ the bells, a pair of mallets and a stand. the bells also had these screwed on metal sockets for the lanky ‘music stand’ that you could attach. it also came w/ a dinky practice pad, and we bought sticks separately. in class, miss S said she'd teach everyone how to put their instruments together properly so that they dont break or ruin anything. except for the percussionists. “its hard to mess up w/ this. go ahead.” i mean ig- i was one of the first to put it together successfully-everyone else was just examining everything. hAh! fools! i stared at everything in awe the night before! anyways i put the music stand thing on so that it would be a rectangular box w/ two poles sticking out of it to attach w/ the sockets. see, the two poles stuck outward/upward a bit before curving back down, so that the papers/folders could sit on it. “hey, youre not doing it right-” i look over to kyle to see that he,, had the poles backwards and facing away from the front side,, somehow he had flipped the way the screws/lines were supposed to connect, too, and they were all crossed. “… what?? thats not right either.” “nah, i think its right.” “… uh no thx-” i backed out of the conversation quickly while zane laughed. i experimented w/ it a lot when i practiced w/ it at home. i changed the height of the stand that carried the bells a lot. i also changed up the shape of the music stand thing a lot-after i practiced, i found my hands pushing it into really ‘cool’ shapes-a kite, a fish, weird boxes, etc. there werent many options, but it kept me very entertained for some reason. bringing it to school was a whole other experience,, the first day we had to bring it, i was dropped off on the other side of the school-the opposite side of the band room. band also wasnt my first period, and i was late that day… my friends said hi to me as i walked in w/ a giant suitcase looking thing behind me, and as i sat down i set it next to the desk. it fell over. a lot. i think i was miffed at the fact that i had to drag it around w/ me for half of the day, and then when i go home, id have to drag it again. weeks into the year, we realized that percussionists were allowed to bring in the bell kit in the morning like everyone else,, thats when i first saw the middle school jazz band, too! i always paused to listen for a moment before going to my first period. we also used the bell kits instead of the mallet instruments that stayed at the school instead of leaving the kit at home for practice and using the mallet ones at school. we found out we were allowed to use them weeks later as well… middle school was not w/out its necessities- weird relationship stuff! yay,, back then and now, i was aware of how bad it could get and how emotionally distracting it could be. mom helped reinforce that too, so i knew i would not dive into any true relationships. didn't mean i could avoid crushes,, when zane and i met, we clicked almost instantly. partners in crime and in percussion. i felt adventurous and confident w/ him, and im sure he felt the same. our connection became very tight. we'd always be the ones chattering together in the back the most and in class there was always glancing and snickering at each other. there was a particular moment that i will never forget- back then, the school marimba w/ black keys was placed in the very back corner next to the instrument cabinets. zane and i were talking while miss S was instructing another section-rude, i know, but i was never really aware of it-and zane was fiddling w/ one of the extra mallets, i think. somehow, the mallet falls from his grasp and down the pipe of the marimba. … “a-ah?” i crouched down and examined the bottom of the pipe, about an inch-ish above the ground. “,, can you grab it?” zane was looking down the pipe from the top. i grabbed the end of the mallet that was visible and tried to move it. no luck… “what can we do? miss S is gonna be so mad,,” i was about to panic-when it came to older figures, i was not good at handling trouble. “wait-put your hand under it and smack it.” “oooh,,” i placed my palm under the pipe and flicked my wrist up lightly. “yeah! we can get it through the top! you just gotta flick it hard enough so that i can grab it!” w/ several attempts and some switching, we grabbed the mallet from the top of the marimba. somehow, miss S was still focused on the wind players. man, we were a power team. as the year progressed, so did our skills as we got used to the practice and our classes. we also met the other sixth grade percussionists at our first concert! see, even tho the classes are separate, we still performed together, altho i didnt really get to know them at the time. i do remember this one time where we were performing, and i went over to the snares to play-one of the rare times that i did. third period's female percussionist was also playing snare, “anne”. she was much taller than me w/ curly black hair, and it was the first time we played together. i didnt think much of it then, but it was a really nice experience, and i wish we could have it again. other than that and playing tests, thats the only time i remember playing snare drum. like, ever. the reason being? i was the only one that could actually play mallets,, so i was given all mallet parts, naturally. this also meant that i needed help w/ snare constantly, leading to an exchange of “rin teaches the mallet part for the playing test, and then someone teaches rin the snare part”. often they asked me the day of the test,, the parts and pieces we practiced usually ended up being performed at four concerts for the seasons-fall, winter, spring, and summer. by the last concert, the band was already fully aware of how close zane and i were. we even ended up together at the schools winter dance-i was supposed to go w/ some other friends, who left. zane and i ate snacks and he had me try sour skittles for the first time. so as we listened to the eighth graders play their music, he leaned over and whispered, “yknow… i kinda,, like you.” w/ a moment of pause, i leaned and whisper back, “i kinda,, like you too.” it was so cheesy but sometimes it just,, be like that.