Semi-finals are over. So is our stretch of the MHSDG Festival for this year. When the judges announced the winners--and, to be frank, we knew our fate even before the first school was called--every eye was dry. There was no anger, no hate, no sadness but for the realization on the part of us few seniors that Comp, as we know and love it, has officially and forever ended.
There was no sadness.
No one was bitter, or, at the very least, nobody showed it. We were graceful, accepting, and encouraging of those schools who, perhaps for the first time in a long time, perhaps for the first time ever, get to experience the three-day whirlwind that is Finals in Boston. When we boarded the bus at the end of the night, the only tones of annoyance were accompanied with complaints of fatigue and aching bones. Our heads hurt, not physically but mentally. Our bodies hurt, physically but from mental memory of steps and movements so rehearsed and choreographed that in our robotic states we failed to recognize the pain and stress that our constant motion had caused.
We were graceful losers in every sense of the word, in the best and truest sense of the word: our grace stemmed from the truth that there was no sucking up of pride, no restraint of tears, only mere congratulations and respect for the shows that outshined us with their beauty and presentation.
I hope the freshmen and the other cast and crew members who experienced Comp for the first time have developed the immense appreciation for, and love of, the season and the sport that those of us who are saying farewell now have so deeply ingrained in our cores.
This year was particularly important for me. Duxbury also competed at our semis site, and for the vast majority of their cast and crew, it was the first time I had seen my friends in an extraordinarily long time. Leading up to the day I was nervous to a point I do not generally care to admit, not necessarily because of the competition itself, under the terms of "winners" versus "losers," so much as seeing familiar faces in such a high-strung and often tense environment. But neither of us advanced, and instead of an awkward contrast between old school and new, there existed harmony, an unexpected cohesion that made me proud of my new friends, proud of my old friends, proud of those moments. For a day, I showed friends of my immediate present the past that before had existed only in stories and photographs.
It became real.
It was like watching a play transform from stage to reality, the best sort of reality because not only was it genuine for me, it was genuine and believable to everyone around me, as well.
To Emily Merlin, one of the most talented and beautiful people I know: your abilities shine whenever you step foot under the piercing white lights of the stage. I watched you yesterday and beamed at your growth and confidence. I am so incredibly proud of you and everything you do and have done. And when I tell you to come visit me, I mean it so truly. (Leanne, too, would love to see you again!)
To Meghan Nelson, a friend who has fought distance and time to keep in touch: I love you, I love you, and seeing you yesterday brought me so much joy and satisfaction. Your determination and resolve motivates me to suck it up in the face of life's tiniest challenges and just push past every perceivable barrier. You have such gifts and I hope one day millions of others are as fortunate as I have been to experience them.
To Darin MacFarlane, my old director and longtime friend: I miss you more than words could say. When I walked through the door yesterday morning and saw you standing just paces away, I felt so much calm wash over me. Know that my tears were ones of love and happiness, and though perhaps tinged with some sadness and longing for the past were above all else a physical expression of the gratitude and respect I have for you.
To Bruce and Alysha: You both bring everybody more comfort and courage than you will ever realize. Bruce, you are our rock and just having you near us instantly assuages all fears and soothes all nerves. Alysha, you give us confidence with your positive spirit and warm hugs. Your presence at semis was so appreciated.
Half of these people may never discover their shout-outs, but the words, which I feel and mean with every part of me, are there.
Today I awoke feeling so full and content.
Spirit and completeness of soul are the two fuels that inspire me to keep moving.