The lifelong implications of being in band

As primarily a parenting blog, I didn’t find any reason to make comments on the story about The Ohio State University Marching Band. And really, two days after the fact, the media has been able to take the story and run with it. And personally, I think that the arguments in the media (and in social media) have been played out enough that I don’t necessarily need to address all the things about it.

But there’s something I do want to say about it–that needs to be said about it. And it’s the one thing that, no matter the direction of the band, can never be taken away and I say is even my greatest accomplishment during my years in it.

Without it, I don’t have my family.

I entered school dating someone that I had dated throughout high school. I moved away to go tryout for The Best Damn Band in Land as an 18 year-old, with no expectations of suddenly finding someone else, I just wanted to be in the band. Strangely, the first day of tryouts, as the row–both veterans and candidates–went to lunch, two veterans agreed to take two candidates in their car to the lunch destination. The two veterans were dating and would later go on to get married.

But little did I know that the candidate I was sitting in the backseat with would later go on to be my wife.

It wasn’t an easy or quick path. It would still be another two years before we started dating, and we each had significant others on the way to it, but my third year in the band, it happened, and a year later, we were engaged. The following summer we were married and two summers later, we welcomed into the world our son.

Ohio State is a school of nearly 60,000 students. I can say, unequivocally, without the marching band, I wouldn’t have her and I certainly wouldn’t have my children. 

I would love to say that our story is unique, but it’s not. Since I was in the band, there have been 8 people–just from my row–that have married other people in the band. I go to at least one “band marriage” a year (one is next week, in fact). You build an incredible bond with the people you were in band with, and in a difficult time like this, it’s actually very nice to have a partner that is experiencing the same emotions as you becase they too were part of it. But if I’d never left my hometown, if she’d never left hers, we would each likely be leading two very different lives today. I would not have her, and we would not have our beautiful, amazing children.

And times like this are actually sad for our family (our oldest asked about it yesterday because he saw how much it was affecting us and said he was sorry about our friend). It’s easy to think, “What’s the big deal, it’s band” but I think just about any former band member will tell you that the 4-5 years that you do in band is simply a blip in your lifespan. I’ve been out of band almost twice as long as I was in band and I still make memories with those I was in band with. They are my closest friends and confidants. I go back every year as an alumni to march not necessarily because I want to march down the ramp again or do Script Ohio, but to have fun with the people that I entered adulthood with. To, in a way, be college kids again, if only for a weekend.

It was an honor and privilege to do be in the band and I’ll never forget, regret, or be ashamed of the four years I did in it. I owe too much of my life to it for that, especially when I got something even more.

And no, we didn’t give them rookie names.


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