For this story to make sense, I need to start at the beginning.

It was the summer before high school. I had tried out for this thing called colorguard and made it, which I was pretty excited about even though everyone makes it. I was super shy and really scared to be in this huge gym with all these other high school girls. I was scared of messing up and getting called out. I did everything I could to be perfect all the time and do everything right. I was especially scared of the colorguard director, Eric, though looking back on it he was the most unintimidating person I have ever met. At that time he was about 27. He’s a very skinny person, has ginger hair that was more evident in his beard than on his head, and is definitely gay, though he didn’t talk about that too much. I slowly began to like Eric, over time, as I got better at colorguard and got yelled at less. Eric played favorites, which some girls hated, but I was one of his favorites. He gave me a huge solo during winterguard season, picking me over the older girls on the team.

As the year came to a close and we began to focus on tryouts for next year, the next season, Eric posted on the facebook group we have (which is how everything is communicated in guard) that we all needed to meet in the band hall after school.

The day was April 1, 2014.

All the band directors were there, which was kind of weird. We came in and sat on the ground. Eric stood in front of us, the four band directors behind him. He took a moment to collect his thoughts. Then he told us he was leaving. He wasn’t going to be our guard director next year. Eric said he wanted to be a math teacher, he wanted to move back home to New Jersey. We also knew that he wanted to get married, and at that time it wasn’t legal in the state I live in.

We cried, we all hugged him. For my class it wasn’t too hard. We barely knew Eric. We wouldn’t miss him that much. And some girls were glad to have a second chance to be somebody else’s favorite.

Then came Jenifo. She was our new colorguard director, our replacement Eric. Everything Eric was, Jenifo was the opposite. Yes, we actually called her Jenifo. That’s how she introduced herself. Jenifo was more strict, a better choreographer, a 40 year old woman. She spoke her mind and didn’t seem to care how it effected us. 

There was so much drama with Jenifo, even at the beginning. The girls in the grade ahead of me complained the most. They didn’t like that she called different exercises different things. They didn’t like that she gave preference to people who were good instead of people who were older, like Eric did. Eric always gave the seniors everything. And Jenifo gave the seniors nothing. They didn’t work, because they didn’t expect they’d have to with Eric. Jenifo picked favorites, a little like Eric, except she only picked two favorites. And she would compare everyone to them. She picked out bad examples and forced them to demonstrate their lack of skill in front of everyone. During a practice I will never forget, she told three of my friends that they were “bringing down the guard.”

Nobody wanted to like her because she wasn’t Eric. And she didn’t make an effort to make people like her, so nobody did. In a way, she united the guard. We stuck together because we had a common enemy. There was very little drama between the members, just drama between us and her.

During winterguard Jenifo lost it. She would cry during practices becuase we couldn’t do what she wanted. She would tell us we looked like beached whales. She would tell us her grandmother could dance better than us. Our show was about inner beauty, but she spent every practice telling us how ugly we looked. Because of her treatment of us, I actually lost what little self-confidence I had.

She must have changed the entire show at least four different times. She was never happy with us

Halfway through the season, two girls quit. We had to change the whole show, again. We all hated them for that. Jenifo cried too and we kind of wondered if she would leave as well. She didn’t.

The season came to a close and April 1st came around. We all made jokes about it wondering (hoping) if Jenifo would quit like Eric had last year. We didn’t think she would.

But then she did. She said she too wanted to move on with her life and do something other than colorguard. I mean, she was a forty year old woman doing a job that was mostly held by 20 somethings. She should have moved on a long time ago. We were not sad to see her leave. And, like Eric had before her, Jenifo picked out who our next director would be. She said she found someone that would better fit our program.

As I started my third year of high school I met my third director, Adam.

At this point we just didn’t want anyone else to leave. We craved stability. It was hard to keep changing directors. You had to make a new impression, show them your strengths, and they didn’t even know the kind of work it took to get you there.

Adam was the one thing Jenifo did right. He was hilarious and easy-going, younger than her, straight (which is strange for the colorguard world) and had a beautiful girlfriend that would come in to teach us stuff sometimes. We all clicked with him right away.

Jokingly, I asked Adam if he would leave us to at the end of the year. He looked me straight in the eye and was dead serious for a moment, which was odd for him and said, “No, Celadon. I’m not going to leave.”

That was probably the best part about Adam. Though he had his moments where he was frustrated with us, he never gave up on us. He was always there for us, always solved our problems. 

At practice after the first day of school, I got heat stroke. It was over 105 degrees outside. I couldn’t really stand or walk or breathe. Adam came by to help me inside. I leaned on him all the way in, since I couldn’t really walk myself.

At one of our first competitions I had a solo which made it harder for me to do this costume change. One of the girls near me stole part of my costume and prevented me from performing in the last part of the show. Adam realized it even before I did. Though there was nothing he could do at the time, he made sure that never happened again. He also commended me at the time at not freaking out or being dramatic about it. Adam always took care of us, always put us before the show. Which is the opposite of what Jenifo did.

He left us too at the end of the year.

I found out during the passing period between my German class and my precal class. Lucy was the one that told me. She said the band director came into the guard class (which I was unable to be in that semester) and told them that Adam left and wasn’t coming back.

He didn’t even say goodbye.

I felt abandoned. Adam was the best guard director we’d ever had. He was hilarious, and though not as good at guard as Jenifo, he was better with us. And on top of all that, he promised me he wasn’t going to leave. He promised.

I cried a lot when I heard. It was kind of embarrassing, actually, because I walked into my precal class just hysterical. My teacher looked at me like I was crazy and asked what was wrong. I told her our guard director quit. We were going to have four directors in four years. We thought Adam was going to stay, we thought we’d be able to have a stable senior year, but no.

My teacher jokingly asked what was wrong with us, if we couldn’t even keep a guard director. I had been asking myself that. What had we been doing wrong?

I later figured out that Adam had actually been fired. Not because of anything he did wrong, but because another, better guard director had contacted the band directors, asking if there was an opening. So the band directors made an opening.

We’ve worked with the new guy, Mr. Martin, a little bit already. I like him, he’s funny. He’s not Adam.

What I’ve been leading up to with all of this is that one of the band directors just left because they were offered a position at a college. All the band kids have been freaking out about it. I just feel numb. So another director is leaving.

That’s what they do.


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