Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Remembering the good

I never got my senior yearbook.

It was something like $65 at the time. And I thought that was astronomical. It kind of was.

I didn't like asking my parents for money with the whole impending college thing, and I had a $6.85/hour job but spent all of my money on chipotle and gasoline. Gas was $4/gallon at the time and I drove a Jeep Wrangler for the better part of my senior year, which just guzzled the guzz out of it.

I was pretty involved in high school. Choir, cabinet, TI, theatre. I worked with the superintendent on a huge presentation. I was voted Most Outgoing. I should have cared, but I just didn't then.

I'm sure I rationalized not getting one in some way or another — maybe I'd just eventually marry my senior crush and we could share.

At the time, I think I wanted to just get out of there.

As it turns out, I am not marrying my senior crush. (For the record, thank Jesus.)

And so, a half-inch size slot on my bookshelf remained empty.

But nearly a decade later, the fact that I never had it made me really sad. I'd never even seen the thing. And as people from my school started living their stories — some really tough, others deeply beautiful — I realized the longer I waited to track it down, the harder it'd be to ever see it.

I emailed my wonderful guidance counselor who sifted through storage and tracked it down for me. It was nice to catch up with him, and see that he's still there doing great things. He even shipped it to my house. (Sidenote: Who knew all I had to do was wait seven years and I'd get it for free.)

I found the book on my doorstep a few days later.

Naturally, the first thing you do is look for yourself, so I opened it and went to my photo.

I looked like hell.

A memory came back that they'd decided you had to use their in-school photographer instead of everybody's senior portraits, and so I'd actually never seen my photo. I was in that awful greenish stage between dying my hair brown and fixing it back to its natural blonde. And I hadn't quite figured out what to do with my cowlick.

I flipped to the choir page. Buncha sophomores.

Went to the cabinet page. I'd missed the meeting on picture day.

Turned to the big panorama of my entire class, thinking I don't remember all crowding into the gym to take a senior photo. That's because I wasn't there that day.

Was this a conspiracy?

As I kept flipping, I was reminded about how much I'd grown since then. How much my heart had grown. And I was really, truly proud of the pages that I did appear on. Speaking about character to underclassmen at a Teen Institute retreat. Working on Verve, our student magazine, where I first discovered my passion for storytelling.

It was as if the universe wanted me to remember the good stuff, and forget the bad.

I smiled.

I flipped through class photos and pointed out people to my fiancé. My best friends Lucas and Maddie, of course. But also people who surprised me.

"She was in choir with me. Made me laugh so hard every day."

"He was an amazing artist. Brilliant designer."

"Some of my favorite conversations happened with her in AP Calculus."

I wanted him to know about these people — these incredible people — the ones who've made lasting imprints on my heart, even though I hadn't talked to them in years.

The little things — the day-to-day things. The little, positive bites of memory are the things I end up cherishing the most.

This is the only photo I could find from HS journalism class. Notice giant 'Yearbooks for Sale' sign above my head. I had no excuse.


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