Yearbooks, Old and New

It was the kids last day of school. I no longer have 2nd and 7th graders, I now have 3rd and 8th graders. It’s a cliché, but how the time flies. They have their little private school yearbooks, more like brochures, than an actual yearbook, but even the little kids passed them around for signing. Their mom told the younger he wasn’t allowed to have anyone sign the yearbook, because it was one for her house, and she wanted it to stay nice. He let people sign it anyway.

We did the last day of school picnics, mid-afternoon for the younger kids, and early evening for the older ones. At home they were talking about their yearbooks, and what they’re for, and how people were signing them, and I found my high school yearbook on the shelf. I let them page through it, seeing the cheesy 80′s outfits, and general weird behavior that happens in a large high school. We had 2500 students in 3 grades, which makes a pretty good sized yearbook.

After my son went to bed, my daughter read through the signatures in my yearbook. Sadly, I don’t remember all of the people who signed, even some of the very heartfelt, friends forever signatures don’t ring a bell. She read through them, occasionally making up voices for the people writing. The impression the people writing to me got was that I was more of a class clown than I realized. That I was a science geek, although they used different terms, and that classes were more fun because I was in them.

One of the things that surprised me was the things you read into a yearbook note, that didn’t register when I was young, and frantic with graduating and moving on to college. Some people put some real thought into the things they said, including, take care of your girlfriend, she’s lucky to have you.

I had teachers that said they counted me among their friends, and one filled an entire page, which my daughter read through, saying “she writes for ever”. Teachers that said more than, “good luck in the future”, and praised me, but at the same time, admitted I was a challenge in their class.

Many of the generic signatures said things like, “hope you fulfill your dreams and ambitions”. It’s funny to think about my dreams and ambitions as I was getting ready to enter college. I wanted to be the single yuppie type, a scientist, without kids, in the high-rise condo, doing things on my schedule. A far cry from the Step-Dad, and Dad, and Grandpa that I’ve become, working my schedule around school, sports, plays, and band concerts. I would have shuddered had someone told me this is where I’d end up as I grow closer to 50 than 40. Today, I wouldn’t trade it for the world.

The girlfriend I was supposed to take good care of, she followed that dream, and she really is a scientist, associate professor, if the website is up to date. She’s still stunningly beautiful, perhaps even more so than she was in high school. I wonder. sometimes if she’s happy with the path she choose. She never finished signing my yearbook. She got halfway through, and I guess something came up, because it ends in mid-sentence.

Tonight, my daughter got a glimpse into the life of her dad as a kid. I got to see the thoughts of people in my life, through my daughter’s voice. We both got to laugh, and joke around about school and friends, and coaches in makeup and dresses. It was a good evening. She’s good company.

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