All my short life I have tried to prepare myself for those moments in life that you look back on and say, "Goddamnit, why didn't I do that differently? Why the hell didn't I say this? How could I have not seen that at the time?" I hated those moments. I wanted to be the one who looked back on it and said, "That was perfect." Quite a difficult thing to do, but I tried nonetheless. It was merely a question of having a fighter's mindset in any situation. Suppress the wild reactions induced by the quick release of adrenaline and anyone can think fast enough, yet clearly enough to pump them through any high-pressure situation. Right?
"Should the kid in the purple shirt play?" The crowd responds, erupting into a cheer. My fists are above my head, my lips are fixed in a huge grin, my eyes are wide open, and my brain just condensed in disbelief, shrunk, not accepting the information. My feet move me towards the front of the crowd.
"You can't jump over," a girl shouts in my ear. Who will stop me? My place is there now. I have to be there. My hands vault me over the breaker and into the lights. Ryan points upstage right of himself. My spot is there. I kneel and quickly unzip my navy blue bag. The bright silver and gold shimmer as if on a lake's surface as I shakily twist the pieces together. But I know the part, I have memorized it to heart, used to play it every day. But I haven't touched my flute for two weeks before now. But I've been practicing in my head, my fingers were blurs in my mind. But I might have been imagining the wrong fingerings. But I've been hoping for this moment for two years. But what if I hit a note that's in the wrong key? But what if they play it in a different key live then on the album? But what if I just stop thinking and have fun? But what if I smile and breathe and get ready for the rush to come, for my chest to expand and for the blood to pump behind my eyes?
I have thirty seconds to listen. Twenty seconds to anchor my fingers. Ten seconds to float. Five seconds to wet my lips and bring the metal to my mouth.
The first note soars. There is hardly any backstage noise as there are no monitors. I can hear the echo from the back of the hall, and I sound really loud. I hope they mixed me well. No time to worry though. I am being cheered by the crowd. The key is right, the notes are perfect. I open my eyes, and the three men who inspired me to take my music further are smiling as they play their own instruments. The Thundergod is playing his innovative hand percussion set just one foot away, hands flying over a half circle with a three foot radius. I can hear the two guitars playing their parts as the two voices sing in harmony. Everything is perfect, just as it should be. The break-down is fast approaching. Though I can't hear myself in the mix, I exhale my inhibitions out with the last note before the solo starts.
And I'm off. My trust lies in the faces of the three men on stage with me, the cheering of the crowd, my instinctual knowledge of the chords playing around me. Still going, I still have energy. I will only stop when signalled. Then silence, but I'm still holding a note! The only sound in the hall is the sound of a midrange A flat, and though a thought slips in the back of my mind, "They've already ended, you messed up," I hold it strong and support with vibrato. Then the Final Chord hits, and what I suspected, that it was purposeful, becomes truth. The crowd knows it, too, and cheers. I shake hands with Guster and pack up as they step off stage. I follow suit, and thank them backstage. They just smile.
As I make my way back out front to listen to the encore the roadies throw me high-fives, tell me it was great. I can hear them, and I trust them, but I have no proof. Some audience members say the same types of things. Guster is playing now, and I see the microphone I held my Gemeinhardt up to, but I'm not there. Was I there? I rack my brain. Yes. Yes, I remember seeing my friend's face staring up at me from the front row. But the chemicals searing through my brain had made it all seem literally like a dream. And yet, they are the proof I need that makes the rest of the night etched along my neurons quite deeply.
I got home that night, and played the album version of the song on my stereo. I'd missed a part, I realized. Did that mean that I'd blown my only shot to play it right? No, I told myself as I began practicing the part. I beat the chemicals, but next time I'll beat them even more. One step closer to controlling myself