Time only moves in one direction. Whether we're ready or not, time propels us relentlessly into the future, into the unknown. On Sunday, I received a notice that my University of Wisconsin NetID would soon be deactivated. This meant that I would no longer have instant access to my academic or financial records, and that I would no longer have an e-mail account. Originally, this was nothing more than a large annoyance, as I would have to create a new e-mail account, and then forward all of my messages there.
But then I got to thinking. My NetID is my last remaining connection with the University of Wisconsin. Once it is deactivated, I am essentially "cut off" from the current workings of the University. It's as if the University is a special, limited access club, and my name is no longer on the list. As I was cleaning out my mailbox, I came across countless e-mails chronicling my time at good old UW. I found old announcements from professors, reminders from TAs, pictures from friends, invites to get-togethers, and correspondence with some of my very best friends. I got to relive the highs and lows of dorm life, reread some of my very first papers, and watch myself grow from a freshman to a graduate. I had a great time at the University of Wisconsin. It's a great school, in a great town. In fact, it's such a great town that DCI likes to hold World Championships there every couple of years or so. Its curriculum pushed me to develop as a student. Until college, I never felt challenged. All I ever needed to do was "parrot" my teacher, and not much else. Madison forced me to think -- to grasp information, analyze its significance, and draw a conclusion based upon my analysis. It was an intellectual challenge under which I thrived. I miss being an undergrad. I miss the late nights, the last minute papers, and the stress of exams. I miss being late for class, trying to stay awake through lecture, and pretending to know what's going on in discussion. I miss the group dinners with my friends, walking down State Street, and cheering my head off at men's hockey games. It's a unique lifestyle with which I yearn to reacquaint myself. But time marches on. Over the months, I've slowly cut my ties to the university. My NetID was the last remnant of my stint as an undergrad at the University of Wisconsin, and now, even that is gone. Each moment that passes propels my time at UW a little farther from reality, and a little closer to memory. I wonder if this is what it feels like to be an ageout. Five months from now, my marching career will be over. How am I going to feel on Finals night? How will I feel three months after that? I know that sometime in the not-so-distant future I am going to have to say "good-bye" to this activity. Will I be ready? There is no "transition time" in drum corps. We come together one cold, wet day in May, and we leave each other one hot, sticky night in August. As soon as we become adjusted to tour life, it's over. I know what it feels like to wake up on the first day after Finals. But how will it feel this time, knowing that I will never again be able to do what I did just 12 hours prior? What is it like to have drum corps become more of a memory, and less of a reality? Time only moves in one direction, and there's nothing we can do about it. Just as I have to come to terms with the ending of my undergraduate career, I will have to come to terms with the ending of my marching career. Someday, I won't be able to sign in to the "Members" section of the Regiment Web site. But until that day comes, you can be sure that I'm making the most of every moment. Lanah Kopplin is a third-year euphonium player in the Phantom Regiment, and previously spent a year with the Pioneer. Lanah recently graduated from the University of Wisconsin (she's a Milwaukee native) with a political science degree, and will age out in 2005.