This summer I was one of the lucky few between the ages of 15 and 21 that got to spend my summer traveling around the country and competing in DCI with my drum corps. We spent each and every day with the same people, sleeping on gym floors, rehearsing all day, no matter how hot, windy, or rainy, essentially living out of a seat on a tour bus, and having each and every minute scheduled for us.
After three months of this, readjusting to real life has been...well...interesting. I realized that drum corps kids adopt some weird habits that normal civilians just don't understand. Here are some examples:
1. Tanning with our socks on
Sock tans are a badge of honor. Our white feet mean the time in Texas when the sun was so hot we thought we were going to melt, and the days in Florida when we were told: "sweat as much as you can so you're just swimming through the air!" Also, it's proof that you actually did used to be seventeen shades paler.
2. Our drink of choice? Gatorade.
Nothing attracts weird looks like getting a nice tall glass of yellow Gatorade out of the fountain in your college dining hall, especially when you are definitely not a varsity athlete. But really it's the only thing that tastes normal after drinking it with every meal for three months. Plus, this is the good stuff, not even the powdered kind...how can you resist?
3. Referring to things as "Box 5"
"Guys, that burger place last night was Box 5." "Uh, what?" "Really good. Okay. Box 5 means really good. Like, the judges check box 5, and that's like the best you can get. BOX 5 BURGERS."
4. Intensely appreciating the little things
The first time you do your laundry with a normal amount of detergent and it still smells normal, the first time you sleep in a real bed, the first time someone asks you what you want for dinner and you realize you actually get a choice, the first time you wake up and realize that you get to look like a real person for a whole day, the first time you go for a run indoors on a treadmill and it feels like cheating...the list goes on.
5. Falling asleep on moving vehicles
When you're on tour, the bus means sleep. You do most of your travelling at night, after a long day of rehearsing and performing, and the hours that you are on the bus factor into the amount of sleep you get that night. So if we're in the car for more than half an hour and I'm not the one driving, odds are I will fall asleep.
6. The true meaning of "food truck"
To drum corps kids, a "food truck" is not a cute little privately-owned truck parked on a city street serving barbecue or grilled cheese or cake pops. It's part of the convoy, and also our only source of meals. Our food truck is a reward after a long block, and it's where we get our paper plates full of food and cups full of Gatorade and most likely where the whiteboard with our daily schedule is. The food truck is life.
7. A true appreciation of dogs
WHEN YOU SEE A DOG ON TOUR, IT IS THE BEST DAY. One time, in Atlanta, GA, I cried in the middle of ensemble because I felt like I was dying, and then this really cute dog showed up. One of the highlights of tour was in Mississippi when two stray dogs showed up and wandered onto the field in the middle of block and let us pet them. Dogs are the greatest thing.
8. We've traveled everywhere...and also seen nothing.
This summer, we were in a different state almost every night, but all we saw was the inside of a random high school gym, their football field, and another stadium where the show was being held. Believe it or not, high school gyms look fundamentally the same whether you're in Louisiana, Oklahoma, or Indiana. The biggest variable is the number and size of cockroaches.
9. Nostalgia. So much nostalgia.
The smallest things remind you of tour, whether it be going to work out in the same clothes you lived in all summer, hearing a snippet of your show or the corps song on the radio or in a random store, the smell of bus exhaust, sitting in the stands and watching your old high school marching band or even that painting in your classroom at school that has the same theme as your summer show.
10. Having best friends scattered across the country
My seat partner lives in Georgia. Some of my best friends live in New Jersey, North Carolina, West Virginia, and Pennsylvania. I don't know the next time I'll get to see any of them, but that doesn't change the fact that I consider them my best friends.