books of photos, memories
must have meant something
In three of the four years of high school, our school delivered yearbooks in the fall of the following year. While not common, this allowed our high school to include the most special end-of-the-year highlights in our annual missive, including prom and graduation. For those who played tennis, golf, track, baseball, and softball, they actually got to see their efforts captured along with the other sports. The annual National Honor Society, Thespians, and other organizations got to include their end-of-the year transitions. Each yearbook captured the full August to May experience.
At my second high school, the yearbooks were delivered at the end of the school year, so yes, some pieces of the year were omitted, but once I was a senior, the hard truth that I would not return to the campus to pick up a yearbook proved itself as certain. Having only attended my high school for one year, the two recollection I have about the relevance of my senior yearbook included, one, my initialing every photo I captured and copy I wrote, and, two, watching our school principal leaf through the finished product shocked to discover the outdoor adventure class rappelled from the lights at the football field. Signatures from people I never had the time to get to know, especially in a graduating class of over eight hundred students, felt wholly unimportant.
As I reach my fifties, I have successfully carted my four yearbooks around from residence to residence for thirty years. In the scheme of my total gross weight of my belongings, what are four yearbooks? Nonetheless, I have been holding onto these four books for decades when I haven’t held on to any relationships from the years I spent at one school or the other. I’m not heartbroken about the friendships lost, but I didn’t want to separate myself from these bound memories. The day came around, however, when I opened the books and realized I do not remember more than ninety percent of the people in these pages. Beyond that, I still don’t feel any sense of loss for the memories my brain failed to retain.
Why am I keeping these books? There is no good reason – none whatsoever. I don’t care who was in the Speech Club, or who taught drafting, or what the spring musical was during my sophomore year. I remind myself that the vast majority of people I knew in high school didn’t fit into the friends category, and might possibly have fit better into the category of asshats. So I ask myself again, why the hell am I keeping these books? Of all the objects with which I have parted over time, throwing out my yearbooks required the least amount of forethought, and five years later, leaves no remorse. I did keep the senior edition, merely because I took the time in the mid-eighties to make a note of what photographs I took and what words I wrote. I still enjoy what I created.