So I just got back from being a "guest artist" at my little sister's band concert, i.e. I got to tout (and toot) my horn and get stared at by 50 little fourth and fifth grade musicians who think I'm da bomb. (And pretty, apparently, in my dress black [pants].) I really just played one song with her [large] band, a French horn-section featuring march entitled Our Claim to Fame that the band director actually wrote when I was in the band, a good six years ago. Pro: you don't need to play in tune! Play loud, have fun. Be "big sister."

I also made new friends. It's funny how I haven't been to a younger concert in quite some time now, one where there's a constant murmer in the audience from giggling siblings playing with dolls on the floor and hormonal little boys who never stop fidgeting, where the lights are off but it's still mostly light because it's in a cafeteria with large window and rows of cafeteria chairs in front of the stage. While hanging out backstage waiting to go on, I had a couple nice little chats with my old band director's student teacher. She was really quite nice, aside from having a last name which happened to be the first name of a guy in my grade who I would really like to throttle sometime. It felt like I could connect with her a lot more than the kids, or even a student teacher of about the same age who might have taught at the high school.

Later, when I was standing in the back, I just started talking with a middle-aged couple who were standing there too. They were nice, too -- it's been a while since I've just had a little chat with someone who I've never met before and probably will never see again. And no, I am not in middle school, though that seemed to have been the first guess of several people. Those are three years of my life where a lot of things could gladly be forgotten.

Both the band and the chorus played/sang several songs that I had played when I was back in elementary school, from "Fifty Nifty United States" (Alabama, Alaska Arizona Arkansas...) to "West Genny Jump." To be young and innocent and rap wearing patriotic flag headbands again (alas). Along the hallway were displays of art projects that I can distinctly remember doing... one of which is hanging up at my grandparents' house now... birthday signs for the middle school band director who was also my middle school band director, a sign on the chorus door reading "Official Home of the Countdown to Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince." Alright, so there were some good times in middle school. Some. More in elementary, though the bad were brought back with the reminiscent callings of "I'm better than YOU are, you jerk!"

High school is better. Not perfect. But better.