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The trip to Austin was exciting, funny, loud, emotional, and hot. After working our way to the top in Area, our Percussion Ensemble received the gold medal and the green light to advance to State. Aside from the fact that on the way to Austin the buses broke down in 100 degree weather, the restrooms didn’t work, and “Real Steel” was played over and over again during the 10 hour trip, everyone was nothing but smiles and anticipation.
Once the group reached the hotel, we stayed in awe of the contrast between the arid desert of El Paso and the luscious greenery of Austin. But from there on out even though my group and I were excited to be there, a cloud loomed over all of our heads, expectancy of what was to come the next day. We had to wake up early the day of competition because aside from the fact that we had a U-Haul truck full of heavy equipment to unload and prepare for our performance, the weather had suddenly decided to break lose and shower us in thundering rain. As we ran around like headless roosters, rushing our instruments to dry shelter, everyone was suddenly in a foul mood because of the stressful situation that we were in. The water that kept seeping into our shoes, the cold air that penetrated every part of our rain soaked clothes, and the tight schedule that reminded us every minuted mattered placed everyone in a frenzied state. In the midst of all the beauty we had hardly ever seen, all anyone could focus on was the passing minutes that brought us closer and closer to the performance that determined whether or not our trip here was going to be worth it.
Finally after about half an hour and one last run through, my group was called in to be judged on the piece we had worked on so hard to prepare. Our judge was a sweet elderly woman who seemed as gentle as a butterfly, yet this did not calm my nerves as the opening notes sounded and my heart leapt to my throat. At first I felt as though the adrenaline running through my veins might cause me to make a mistake and lose the gold medal for the group, but the more I looked around at my companions playing and grooving to the beat, the more I myself felt the music. By the end of the performance all that we were focused on was playing music and having fun, which was what we had came to do in the first place. We still had to wait about an hour after everything was over to receive our results but we were no longer worried. We gave our best and left everything we had onstage, therefore we were content with whatever happened, win or lose. The cloud was now lifted and our eyes could now not only see the beauty all around us, but the beauty in each other. This trip was not only for competition, it was our last goodbye for those who were already graduating and whom we had formed a bond with for three long years. In that moment joking commenced again and our hearts were able to appreciate these moments with each other, recalling old memories from when we had just met and commenting on the changes that had occurred in the course of three years. It was in the midst of all this fun that our band director came bearing the news of our results, we had won gold.