A Favorite Place
Friday, May 31, 1991, was my graduation day. Looking back on that night, I cannot believe how much my life has changed since. That night I had no idea what the future held for me or how hard it would be to let go of the security of high school. The process of graduation, reading of the names, the acceptance of diplomas, the speeches, all ended fast enough. But for me the real end would be leaving the music building as a student for the last time. It was in that building that high school really began for me. In that room, I learned more about myself and life than any class ever taught.
It would be hard through the appearance of the building to realize why I consider it a favorite place. Its value to me is through memories, not architecture. Many of us went to high schools that were well worn out by the time we had gotten there and mine was no exception. The old music building out behind the school had weathered nearly 20 years before I walked in its doors. The building was in the shape of a pentagon and constructed of dusty yellow brick that had obviously been purchased from the lowest bidder. The sidewalk out front was decaying away and the lake that formed out front every time it rained only made it worse. All these things were all I really thought of the building the first time I was about to go inside, during the summer of 1988.
My three years of high school began early due to summer marching band rehearsals. There I was: an incoming sophomore, wondering if I really wanted to put all this time into band. Basically, I didn’t know what to expect. But, in I went, into a room abuzz with activity. There were the few familiar faces of junior high, to whom I instantly retreated. There were the many strange, older faces that seemed to look at us with a strange curiosity. The band room, which seems pretty small to me now, seemed enormous to me then. I looked around at the many trophies and pictures from years past lining the walls. I read the big, goofy looking green chalkboard that I was to constantly rely on for the latest news and noticed how the green of the board matched the color of what was once carpet on the floor.
Suddenly there was silence. We all searched out seats in the rows of chairs awaiting us. The band director, looking as young as we did, stepped forth from the office to his tall stool in front of the chalkboard. This is what I recall him saying that day:
“Today I want to welcome the newest members of the the band. I have something aimed primarily at you, but it will serve as a reminder to everyone else. This is not just another class, like science or math. You have come here out of the love and enjoyment of music and through that you all will form a family. You will spend many hours together in this room and this feeling will develop. You will spend so much of your time here that it will become a second home.”
At the start of each year, basically the same thing was said. I really didn’t fully appreciate that fact until I was leaving. It was in that room that I put forth my hardest work, did many stupid things, had my greatest laughs, and had my hardest moments. I looked at the walls and saw the new shelves of trophies and pictures put up since I had arrived. In the silence I heard the voices of the people that had influenced me that were not there that night.
It was hard to imagine that a room I was once almost afraid to enter, I was now afraid to leave. Robert Fulghum said in a graduation speech, “As the last senior mounts the stage steps, an invisible door as solid as that in the vault of the First National Bank swings softly shut behind them, locking high school away for them in the safe-deposit box of memory.” This did not happen to me after passing through the line that night or even after tossing my mortarboard through the air. It happened when I took one last look around the band room and walked out the door. That room was more than just another classroom. It was a theater in which the greatest and worst times of my life were played out. It was a second home.
–Jason Reese, Hendersonville HS BOG class of 1991