This is a regular column featuring original poetry and fiction by and for teens, provided by Figment.com, the online community writing site for young readers and writers.
Dear Mr. C,
OK, so let's go back to 6th grade. Everyone in this band was short and round-faced. On the first day, no one could open their lockers, we couldn't find any of our classes, and the 8th graders sent us on a wild goose-chase for the hidden swimming pool.
The second day of school wasn't any better. Our lockers still wouldn't open, we got our gym lockers, and we still couldn't find the swimming pool. And then I walked into band. I wasn't too good the year before, and I wasn't sure where I would stand among the other trumpet players. Sure, everyone wanted the first chair, but only one kid would get it, and everyone knew it would go to Danny Chen. But band was one of those times in those first few weeks that we could all relax and say to ourselves, "I'm not going to worry about my locker, my gym locker, or the hidden swimming pool. I'm going to do my best to impress this man in the front of the room."
Of course, I didn't get first chair. In fact, I was almost last chair. (Danny Chen, of course, was first.) But I remember going to our band lessons, and you would keep telling me that I had the potential to be in the first section. So I tried harder because I wanted to impress you. As the year progressed, I started to move up the ranks -- I was 5th chair out of 14 by the end of November, and I think I was the most surprised out of all of us. You convinced me to go out for All County Band, and I totally failed at auditions. I tried my best, and I learned a lesson from it. I was moved up to 3rd chair after our winter concert.
Of course, I wanted first, but I wasn't ready for that.
Slowly, you moved me up to third chair, between Ari Simms, who was 4th chair, and Tom Haggard, who was 2nd chair. And, let's face it, there was no doubt that Danny Chen was first chair. But Tom kept talking to Danny in the middle of class, and to punish both of the guys, you put me in between the two of them.
You are so lucky that I haven't socked you yet. But I also want to thank you, because that made me 2nd chair. That's been the closest I've gotten to 1st chair since then. But I've gone so much farther with your help. Ari Simms dropped band because she wanted to pursue skating. Tom dropped band because he wanted to hang out with his girlfriend more often.
I want to thank you for a lot more than 2nd chair, even though now I'm 3rd (again). Because I've met my best friend through band. You helped me through my parent's divorce, and made sure I was hanging in there every once in a while. You convinced me I was good enough to do Rock and Soul, which I loved. You made me laugh and smile when my cousin was in the hospital. And, you let me sing during School of Rock rehearsals, even though I'm not a singer and you know it.
The most important thing, though, was that you didn't give me your ceremonial baton (designated for the "most musical" kid or whatever). You gave it to Greg, and we all knew that he deserved it. But, instead, you stopped me one Monday morning and told me, "you're different."
I almost socked you again, but you explained what you meant.
"You're different, because you're just trying to be yourself. Every other girl dresses the same, talks the same, walks the same, but you're not like that. You've been your own thing since I met you, but you're happy with that, and that's really refreshing," You told me.
I wanted to let you know that that's so much better than getting the baton. So, I know you're retiring this year. But I wanted to let you know, I think a lot of people will miss you.
And, you've helped me through a lot. Thanks.
Don't forget to email, either.