Just 3 months ago I walked across a stage to shake Governor Wilder’s hand not knowing what the next few months would have in store for me. Two months before that I played what I thought would be my last VCU Peppas appearance. Soon after graduation, I was offered a better position at the job I was currently at meaning I could stay in Richmond for awhile longer. This meant there would be some opportunity to play with the band if I wanted to. After putting in four years of full time commitment with the Peppas, I wasn’t sure if I was ready to play another season, or what my commitment would be in the upcoming year. So I decided to go to VCU’s 2014 Freshman Convocation and play with them.
I arrived before most of the Peppas and got my stuff out. Then I watched returning members trickle into the Stu over the next hour or so. There were some faces that instantly lit up as they saw me sitting there in my usual perch on the left side of the band, and several people came up to me so excited! My “dancing partner” Steven, who I hadn’t seen since June ran up to me and would’ve tackled me had I not been recovering from a back injury. I talked to some of the members that I hadn’t seen in awhile then we got into the stands and ran through some tunes before it was show time.
It was like coming home playing with the Peppas again. I had decided not to dance for fear of re-injuring my back, but then we started playing for a new audience of some people that had NO idea what we do. The energy just flowed into me and I couldn’t help but “Ginger Rage”. Watching the faces of the unsuspecting freshmen in awe and seeing them pulling out their phones to take pictures/videos and tweet/text/facebook us was pretty cool. There were some familiar faculty/alumni/student faces there that waved or said “hi” during breaks from playing, even though I didn’t expect anyone to really notice that I was back.
When the actual convocation was over, we headed outside to march down Broad St to Monroe Park. During the march I spotted some familiar faces in the crowd and some even reached out for high fives, handshakes, and fist pumps. It still surprises me that people recognize me as Ginger Rage from the Peppas. After marching through the park, we headed back to pack up our stuff.
I stood around with some of the trumpet players that were freshmen last year. I had taken them under my wing and showed them ropes of how things were done. We talked about their summers, the upcoming year, and also reminisced on last season’s crazy adventures in the Peppas. Then we said our goodbyes and went our seperate ways with plans to get together soon. It felt great to be back with the people I called family for the past four years and back in the stands of the Stu, a place that I called “home” for the same time.