I'm one of those people who can sit on a park bench and peoplewatch. Some of my fellow people watchers try and make up stories about the people passing, instead of making up a story; I'd rather just wonder what the person's story actually is. What do they do? How did they get here?
All the tourists that stop walking in the middle of path, where are they from? Why did they come to New York City for vacation? Personally, I'd rather go somewhere a little more relaxing. I always wonder if the person I'm sitting next to on the bus is someone I should know in my industry or someone famous. What are they reading? I am one of those people who try and eye what you're reading on the plane or bus. Who knows, maybe I want to read the same book? Wherever it is, I typically just wonder how a person got to where they are. Typically, to go somewhere you have to grow up and, despite what we might try to deny, eventually become older in age. Sometimes when you become older, they say you gain a sense of maturity and responsibility. I say if you complete a season of drum corps successfully, you mature and learn responsibility. Through my three years of marching and two years of keeping up with all of the Bluecoat people, I have seen a lot of people grow up. I think it's kind of strange how we all grow up around each other. When I started marching I was 17, fresh out of high school, my drum major was 20. Now I am 22 and my drum major is now my corps director (and he's married). My brass arranger has two beautiful children now, something he was missing my rookie year. My best drum corps friend, Jenn Johnson, is starting her semester of student teaching; she had just finished her freshman year of college when I was rookie. Fellow members of my age-out class are engaged. What's weirded me out the most is that my color guard captain, Ashley, was 16 when I first met her, and she's 20 now. I feel old. Sometimes I feel the need to play mom in most situations. I still worry about Ashley, even though she's a sophomore in college and can take care of herself. I've woken up in the middle of the night to check on Laura while she was sleeping on my bus because I thought that I had forgot to count her after a rest stop. I worry about all the young "kids" I marched with my last year -- maybe because I was leaving and knew they had many more years to go. Most of all, I love watching the 15- to 17-year-olds grow up during the summer. There's something about the summer, where your age doesn't matter, when it comes to finding a best friend. The 16-year-olds befriend an age out, and you forget that the person next to you is still in high school. For once age isn't anything but a number. I've met the most mature 16-year-olds in my life because of drum corps. They have a hard time at high school because none of their friends are quite as sophisticated as them. They've already been independent and had to make their own decisions because of their drum corps life. They weren't at the beach. They weren't watching television all day. They weren't going to the mall. They were working as hard as they probably ever had in their whole lives. This is the good part about being young and in the activity. No matter how old you are when you start or finish your drum corps career, every summer you learn something about yourself and I think you learn about the person you want to become. Sometimes you learn things from the most unexpected people. I admire so many people I have marched with. I especially admire the young kids who grow into beautiful people (yes, it's the mom in me) because of drum corps. They have embraced all the information given to them throughout the three-month process that we call tour, and apply it to every facet of life. If you ask me, those lessons learned are worth more than the $1,000 that tour costs. I'm so proud when parents realize that their child has grown up and become a responsible person despite being away from home. Unfortunately, I've also seen just the opposite. It becomes disheartening when a young high school senior comes to drum corps and doesn't mature whatsoever. I feel bad for the parents who just wasted their money. Most of all I feel bad for the young member because they just wasted three months and have no idea what drum corps was all about. They cheated themselves. I wonder if they'll cheat themselves throughout their whole entire life. I am thankful that I have only seen this situation a very small number of times. No matter what, I wonder what all the young kids will become. Dancers, doctors, lawyers, psychologists, teachers, the list is endless of what they can become. Most of the time they become amazing people who embrace what life brings them as they grow. While I am still growing up and embracing the life I have chosen, I know that I have plenty of time to sit back and wonder what I will become. Ten years from now, I know I'll still be thinking about those young kids I've marched with. They won't be young anymore and I'll still be older, but somehow I know I'll still be in awe about what they have become. 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.