Last night I rediscovered my 1968 high school yearbook on a closet shelf. Seems like every ten years or so I drag it over to a reading lamp and slowly turn the pages while being sucked back to what seems like yesterday. Within the yearbook’s clear plastic cover and yellowing pages are my first few girlfriends, acquaintances with whom I’ve lost contact, and faces whose names I will never remember. Rich and Walt are in there, too, looking both incredibly young and wise. And, of course, there’s me. If I had the power to step back through time and draw these three youths together again in a crowded, locker-lined hallway in-between classes, what would I tell them about the future in three sentences or less?
I was not a very popular guy. Being a military brat I had learned how to blend in. Not make waves. Be an observer, because friendships — when one’s family was transferred from country to country every 2 or three years — were … difficult.
“To Tim: a sweet, funny guy”, “a nice guy”, “a strange guy”. Myriad salutations all the same, with signatures scribbled in blue fountain pen ink.
What happened to all these forgotten people who once seemed to play such an important part in my life? And what happened to their fountain pens? Do these forgotten people perhaps read THEIR yearbooks, too, from time to time and wonder about me, that strange, nice, sweet guy?
I eventually return this book of mixed memories to its shadowy hiding place, and sigh once or twice to myself, grateful for something so fleeting I can’t quite put my finger on it.
+ + + + +