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Rollercoaster Ride

My dad has always been a tough guy to live with, everyday is like a roller coaster, crazy twists and turns that leave your head spinning. I HATE roller coasters. Usually, when the roller coaster car is descending, it is more of a dip, which comes back in a matter of days (mostly thanks to my mom). This, however, was more like that initial plummet that you cannot help but scream during the fall. Things usually never got farther than a few slammed doors, raised voices, harsh words, and were calm, though not necessarily back to the status quo, by Monday. Though when they did I had always acted like the little adult, my moms sidekick. However, when this new idea of the family breaking up surfaced, it was as if my roller coaster cart had slid off the tracks. I could handle fights, not this. And on top of it all, I had to go to summer band practice in the middle of chaos. With things unsettled at home and at such an intensified level, I did not think I could handle contact with the outside world. Little did I know, I did have the strength in me to face even this challenge. Sitting in my brothers car, I had that intolerable pain in my throat, where it seems like someones jabbing you with the eraser side of a pencil. But I knew that if I even let a tear slip, the fountain would not stop. And I never cry in public, never have, and never want to. I have always felt that bringing sadness to a situation solves nothing. I had to do everything to make sure it stayed this way. I slowly crept out of the car, willing a four-hour long spurt of amnesia. I walked the short distance to the band hall doors, and as soon as I opened them, I was assaulted by the two hundred and fifty malodorous, and generally messy, people. The normal, lively chatter was the perfect cover for me, no one needed to pay attention to Kalyani Gupta today, nor would she go seek out an audience. I was ashamed of the situation at home, and of the fact that I was scared of what would happen next. I walked swiftly and steadily, weaving my way through the clusters of people, making sure to avoid my friends. I did not care to answer their questions, or take part in their conversations. I busied myself with getting my stuff together, and soon rushed out to let myself be engulfed in the large mob heading towards the band field. In this crowd, I felt safe. It was like being surrounded by people, but still being alone. This time though, I liked the solidarity. It was the peace I had not seen in a long time. As we began to warm up, the jabbing pain was still there, even the familiarity of my surroundings were not enough to calm me. Keeping everything bottled up did not help my performance; I stumbled over my feet as we ran laps and kept making mistakes when we began marching. Eventually, I got so engulfed in doing well, hitting my dot, maintaining my posture, and playing my flute as well as I could. So much concentration had to be invested in marching, that I had no time to think of my problems. When I finally did remember the uncertainty, the situation no longer felt like something I could not handle. I was able to just brush it off as my dads flaws, not my problem. As rehearsal came to a close, I was joking around with my friends, echoing their complaints of a tough day. I still had a heavy heart, dreading having to go back to that house, surrounded by negativity, but I had a momentary reprieve from my dads insecurities. Like many other people, the economic downturn affected my family personally, my dad lost his job, and his bent-up frustration turned to anger. I know his actions are not a result of his feelings towards his family, but rather that he feels lost and unsuccessful. Even through his intense spurts of anger, I know I am still his little girl, though there may be times I question it. Nevertheless, his temper is something that I have to watch out for because I never know when it is going to strike. And when troubles get especially difficult, I have learned the importance of stepping back from a situation, and approaching it later to really understand it. I have never wanted sympathy, nor do I think I deserve it. I realized among the flutists, brass players, and clarinetists that they too have struggles of their own. Though I have rarely shared my feelings with others, there have been many tears on the pillowcase late at night. However, before this nightmarish experience at summer band, of having to juggle the instability at home and still play O Fortuna full of emotion, my ability to cope had never been so harshly tested. Through this ordeal, I have discovered inner strength that I did not know I had at such a young age. I have learned that my struggles make me the person I am. My roller coaster life may never become a merry-go-round, but at least I can feel less frightened when the downturns do come.