We should carry a yearbook with us for our whole lives, not just throughout the last few days of high school.
I used to work at Macy’s some time ago. I spent two years there. Some of the people I met and experiences I endured had lifelong effects on me. I remember the comedy stylings of the outrageous sales associate, “J-bird. ” I remember the stylish Waldez, the lady’s man Fundi, the innocently cute Trish, and the always-jovial Sergio. And I even remember the hated mangers Pat and Phil.
But I won’t always remember them. These people—people who affected me in a very real, very fundamental way—are fated to become ghosts that reside in forgotten neurons. Like dust, memories of them might get stirred up now and then, but will eventually settle in the crevasses of my mind, never to be disturbed.
My fellow high school graduates from the class of 2007 will not share this fate.
Why? The yearbook.
Yearbooks are an all-encompassing tribute to K-12. They’re a memento to the first chapter of a person’s life. They’re a time capsule.
I can still remember everyone signing each other’s books in the gym on the last day of senior year. And, of course, I still remember all the people I went to school with. I haven’t looked at my yearbook since a few months after graduating, but I can still remember some of the entries people wrote. What those people meant to me, and what I meant to them, is preserved in ink from now until the end of time.
Because of the high school yearbook, I’ll always know that Nicole might’ve have liked me because she gave me her number and screen name and said “You BETTER IM me.” I’ll always know that Mr. Rosenstein thought I was the “stupidest smart person” he’d ever met.
I can’t say the same thing for any other figures from my past. This also goes for the people I met in college.
Sure, there are college yearbooks, but they don’t carry the same significance. I didn’t see one person in my graduating college class ask someone to sign a yearbook. Yes, there’s also Facebook but there’s no emotional significance to Facebook. There’s no polite sendoff. There’s no heart-to-heart. The emotional side of Facebook, at its best, is the high you get when the person you had/have a crush on pays attention to you.
Memories of college classmates and other past figures will fade as time goes on.
And it shouldn’t be this way…and it doesn’t have to be. There’s a solution.
Imagine if everyone had a “real world yearbook”—a blank book in which all the people you met could write entries when you were about to embark on a new journey in life.
Instead of remembering long-gone acquaintances and friends by their vapid or inactive Facebook pages, we could remember them by a heartfelt few sentences inscribed in a yearbook that spans the course of our lifetime, not just for the small group of people we knew in K-12.
We could get our childhood doctor to sign when we saw him for the last time, when we were old enough for a “grown up” doctor. Coworkers could sign when we left for greener pastures. The clerk at the deli we make banter with could sign when we’re finally leaving town. Everyone we ever met after high school would be enshrined in text.