By Allison Owen Thanksgiving has officially become the most stressful holiday for me. My plans seemed simple enough: Instead of going to Hollywood with my band, I'd go to my corps banquet and auditions. Sure all my friends in band thought I was crazy, but I couldn't stand to miss seeing my corps friends all dressed up.

Allison Owen and her seat partner and banquet date, Jonathan.
So plans were made. I'd go to Arkansas to spend Thanksgiving Day with Jonathan and his family -- my parents were in California -- and then we'd drive to Memphis on Friday for the banquet. On Saturday I'd go to a couple hours of auditions and fly out to California to be with the band. It seemed like the best of both worlds, or so I thought.^ Everything started out just fine. I flew from the small local airport to Cincinnati -- which is in Kentucky, by the way -- and then on to Little Rock. Sounds simple enough, right? I thought so too. While I was sitting in the Cincinnati airport for my two-hour layover, an airline attendant announced that our flight would be delayed. OK, no big deal, I'd just be half an hour late to Little Rock. This delay just gave me even more time to write an essay for History. When I finally arrived in Little Rock, one of my friends, Trent, called to let me know that half of my band was still in Atlanta due to weather delays. They ended up being delayed more than six hours and I was somewhat glad I wasn't stuck in the Atlanta Airport too; little did I know that this would be a sign for me of things to come. We went down to baggage claim to get my suitcase. Everyone who marched with me this summer knows that it's not that hard to not see my suitcase; it's a big red rolling duffel. So as I stood there watching other peoples' luggage go around the carousel, it soon became obvious that my bag was not there. Unfortunately I had to make the dreaded walk to the Delta baggage claim office. After I described what my bag looked like and gave the guy behind the counter all my phone numbers and addresses, I was given an 800 number to call to check on the status of my luggage. So we left. It wasn't that comforting for me to know that they might never find my suitcase -- especially since it had a lot of my clothes, shoes, and my corps scrapbook. Late that night I called the 800 number to see if they had found my bag. Sure enough, after a long time on the phone, I was told that my luggage would be delivered the next morning at 7. Now I could go to sleep knowing I would see my stuff again – granted, of course, that I slept in jeans.

10 a.m. Thursday morning – Thanksgiving -- still no luggage. I was about to call the office again to find out what was going on when a van pulled up and a man removed my bag from the trunk. I then decided that I would never check luggage again after this trip. After a wonderful day of turkey and other great food, we left for Memphis on Friday afternoon. Before we went to the restaurant we stopped at Kate's so we could change. Then we were off to Jillian's.

Of course it was chilly outside -- it's late November in Memphis -- so we all wore our corps jackets with our formal attire. We were a lovely sight. As we entered the banquet room it instantly became like back in August -- everyone was running, jumping, hugging, crying, and all that emotional stuff, even with a lot of the girls in heels. It was such a great feeling to be back with my corps family again; I was very happy I had chosen to go to the banquet instead of Hollywood.

As the banquet flew by, we reminisced about the 2004 season and learned a few things about the 2005 season – it's going to be a great one. We laughed, some of us cried, and we just had a good time. It was awesome just to be with everyone again. But as quickly as Denver snuck up on us, the banquet came to an end. We took pictures, hugged, said our goodbyes, and went our separate ways.

Of course some of us saw each other again the next day at auditions. Finally drum corps season had begun. Did I mention I love drum corps? It was my first camp as a vet, but I only got to stay for about an hour or two before I had to leave for the airport. Despite the fact that I wasn't there long, I loved every minute of it. I said goodbye to all my friends -- until next camp, that is -- and then Mr. Bonahan took me to the airport.

Here's where the fun begins again. I checked in a couple hours early -- everything seemed alright. When it came time for my flight to depart, though, we were all still sitting in the terminal -- our plane hadn't even landed yet. This wouldn't be that big of a deal for me if I didn't have only a 30-minute layover in Phoenix. I knew I was going to miss my connection. To make an insanely long and boring story short, I ended up on a flight out of Memphis late that night. So instead of spending my day at corps auditions, I spent my entire day at the Memphis International Airport. I'll be the first to admit that's not quite as fun as drum corps. Over the course of my day at the airport I was randomly chosen for a search by a Russian woman named Elsa -- that was really her name, I swear -- and I met a guy who marched with the Crossmen in 2003. All in all it was a stressful trip for me, but I had a great time being with my corps again. I wouldn't trade my experiences for anything. In the spirit of Thanksgiving, I am very thankful to have marched alongside such an awesome group of people.