July 24, 2002 - 2:16 pm

i don't have many regrets in my life.

i'm aware that even the smallest choices can ultimately affect our entire lives. being conscious of this can drive someone crazy. what if i decide to grab a donut for breakfast instead of eating cereal at home? what if on my way to the bakery i get in a car accident that leaves me with permanent spinal damage? hmm, i better eat cereal.

i'm glad to say that i think i've found a happy medium. i've tried to put a lot of thought into the decisions i've made. ultimately, i can justify almost every single choice i've made, even though it may have seemed like i was making the wrong choice at the time. even from those "bad" choices i'm able to extract the good things that came from it.

there's one that i can't though. one decision that to this day reminds me that i made a mistake. i was wrong. it's something i'm going to remember for the rest of my life.

like most kids, i had those free music lessons offered to me in the fourth grade. do you remember? it was a public school thing, where the teacher came and taught everyone how to play recorders that the school let us borrow.

i was so excited to be playing. yeah, i know it was just a recorder, but i was good. no joke, i've always been one of those little bitches who is very good at everything she tries. no before you start thinking, "wow, she's conceited", know that i did it (still do it) out of insecurity. the truth is, i forced myself to be better than anyone because i thrived off of receiving praise from others. i came down harder on myself than anyone else when i wasn't the best at something; and when i did accomplish great things it meant absolutely nothing to me if i didn't have a thoroughly impressed audience.

i decide the following year that i want to be in band. i decide i want to play alto saxophone. my mom goes to talk to my music teacher and tells him. he suggests i play clarinet instead.

"she's such a little girl, i just think the instrument would be easier on her". so i'm a little peeved, i mean, i wanted to play the sax i really did. i can't help the fact that i'm tiny and skinny (before i hit my growth spurt, i was one of the shorter girls) but because i needed to impress people somehow and because i really wanted to be in band, i gave in and decided to play the lame old clarinet.

well, not to anyone's surprise i became really good. i was one of the best in my school. my teacher loved me because i tried so hard and the other kids hated me because he favored me. i played for about 2 1/2 years before my parents decided that it was time to stop renting and buy me my own clarinet.

7th grade came around and i started hanging out with the wrong crowd. or at least as wrong as wrong can get in seventh grade. come to think of it the wrong crowd was one girl, Coley. she was one of the prize flute players and because we were so good, we were playing in the high school band. neither of us were learning at our own pace with the kids our own age, so we got sent to the high school to play with the big kids.

a combination of shock and bliss at my newfound freedom of being able to walk to and from the high school after school is what led me to look up to coley. she, unlike me, was used to this type of freedom. so when she proposed that we ditch band and walk around the school instead, i thought to myself, "why not?".

we did this for about 3 weeks and then one day we got caught. coley's mom needed to pick her up early and she had called the band director looking for her who had responded "she's not here, in fact she hasn't come in weeks". being the great teachers they were, they start worrying and pretty soon there is a man hunt (middle-school girl hunt?) going on at the high school.

my parents were disappointed. i was embarassed, so embarassed that i blamed them and said i had never wanted to play clarinet in the first place and that i felt like if i wanted to be in band than i had to play the clarinet, even though it wasn't what i wanted. i know, it didn't really make sense, and it still doesn't.

i wasn't allowed to hang around with coley, i quit band, because i was too proud to face my old band teacher who had once thought so highly of me.

a few months later, while i was getting ready to sit down at lunch and i was faced with the greatest dilemma of those days, "red or blue milk", i saw my band teacher.

he came over to me and said he wanted to talk to me. i grudgingly sat down with him, trying to look cool.

"you're very good" he said. "i don't care about what happened. i don't want you to give up. i want you to come back. you shouldn't throw your talent away, you shouldn't punish yourself. will you come back?"


here i am, 10 years later and i still look back at this event as the biggest mistake of my life. i was haughty, i was too proud, i was ashamed. i haven't played clarinet since then. i tried trumpet about 3 years later, but it wasn't the same. there were so many other kids that were better than me, plus i just didn't feel as comfortable with it as i did with a clarinet.

i'm lucky if i can crank out "mary had a little lamb" now. even though i only attempt that alone, i'm still embarassed.

it's a shame. i was stupid. it seemed like such an unimportant thing at the time. is this silly? is this a silly thing to regret.

it's pretty much my only one.

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