It's been a year. It's been a year since I started my last opportunity to ever perform in front of thousands almost every day. It's been a year since I began a journey that I will never forget.

Becky Novac
It's been a year and it's just now hitting me. I've skipped summers before, knowing that the next summer I would return. I can't go back next summer, in fact I can never go back. All my friends are getting ready for tour and I'm not allowed.^ I am no longer allowed to be carefree for three months. I am no longer allowed to just focus on one main goal. I am no longer allowed to enjoy the one activity that no matter what made me happy. I thought I would enjoy my freedom this summer, but as the spring days dwindle down to summer, this summer and every summer for the rest of my life will never compare to those I spent outside in the sun for longer than any dermatologist would recommend. I think back to last summers three months that I will never have again and remember a lot of things I did that I didn't do my first two summers. I advise everyone, especially the ageouts, to do some if not all of the following: Keep a journal

I never did. Most of you probably think I would, considering my column writing hobby, but I never did. The closest I ever got to keeping a journal was two small paragraphs I wrote my rookie year. Even if you don't write in it every day, I think it can provide some sort of relief and most importantly you can look back on it at times like these when it's been a year. I don't know what my journal would even say my ageout summer, because besides my memories and pictures, I don't have anything else to recall the good and bad times. Take pictures often It happens every summer: You use one roll of film during everydays at the beginning of tour, and then five rolls during finals week, and that's it. It's unfortunate when you develop everything in August and realize that a whole chunk of time is missing. Getting to know It's hard to go outside the walls of your individual section and get to know other members. I'll admit that I wasn't the best person to get to know the horn line, but I tried to get to know some of the ladies of the horn line when we were getting ready for shows. I didn't even have the chance to get to know everyone in the color guard as much as I would have liked. Another great group of people to get know are your bus drivers and volunteers. The bus drivers have a lot of down time and always want to know about drum corps, especially if this is their first time driving a bus for a bunch of "band kids." Chuck was my bus driver my last two summers, and he by far was one of our biggest fans. He gave his own pep talks to my bus before we got off. When we had a long drive, Chuck would tell stories about being a Marine. I won't have to worry this summer about rolling my sleeping bag, about which corps is at tonight's show, if the showers are hot or cold, or count six of the 21-count move in the closer. My worries have shifted since those days to bills and more bills. While the "real world" is great and grand, compared to my summers at Bluecoats, the real world isn't all that great. I wish everyone well this summer. I'll be around. I plan on going to both nights of Allentown and Hershey. Good luck and take advantage of the memories, the people, and the amazing journey. For some of you, in a year, you will be in my shoes. How do you want to remember this summer? Becky Novac currently lives in Hoboken, N.J., and works for Universal McCann in New York City as an assistant media planner. She is 22 years old and a recent graduate from Penn State University where she majored in journalism and psychology. Becky marched with the Bluecoats in 2000, 2002 and 2004 as a member of the color guard.