Moments after I told Manchion I was going to take my yearbooks home to look through them because I wasn't sure if I could handle it at school, I had my yearbooks out and was looking through them with several of my homeroom students gathered around me.
(It's funny how interested they are in our lives, sometimes. They thirst for knowledge that we're human, maybe? Probably more likely they want to feel included and that we're willing to share who we are with them. I don't know. Go see someone who studies their brains for a living, if you really want to know. I just try to coax them into putting stuff in their brains, I don't study them. I know I'm the one who brought it up. I'm just sayin' is all.)
I think I opted for the public viewing so I'd be less likely to have an emotional reaction.
The yearbooks always arrived in the summer when I was in junior & senior high school. It seems to me it was close to the time school started, but that could just be the result of a faulty memory. My memory is much more faulty than some people would like to believe--or have me believe. I keep having jump-starts lately that let me know this.
After "the event" my senior year, when the Brad-and-Mark entity suddenly became two separate entities, I was pretty much done with Mark Twain High School. I was pretty much done with Center, MO. I was pretty much done with Ralls County. If I had any more being pretty much done left in me, I probably would have been done with Missouri, the midwest, and the Bible belt.
Because the problem could not possibly lie with me, you see, it had to lie with where I lived. To be fair to 18-year-old me, it did partly lie with where I lived--but at the end of the day, when the choice is made, the one making the choice is the one making the choice.
Still, I remember it well. I remember making a countdown calendar in my locker of the days I had left in that school. I remember wanting nothing to do with anyone at that school... but being willing to make allowances for one or two people. I remember never wanting to remember that place, and despairing because I knew it would be impossible to forget.
Turns out, that was almost wasted despair, but we'll come back to that... maybe. I forget my "we'll come back to" items, sometimes.
Anyway, as a part of this seemingly-feeble-but-as-it-turns-out-not-so-feeble attempt at forgetting MTHS and all things associated with it, I didn't have anyone sign my Senior yearbook. It is as writing-free today as it was the day it was put in the box to be shipped to MTHS. So I started with that one. I showed the kids pictures of me in "the trenchcoat", and I showed them pictures of me in different clubs, etc., and I showed them my senior picture.
Mostly they were amazed my hairline was once lower. Seriously.
Because it was the 25th Anniversary Edition, there were pages in color... and I'm in my trenchcoat on one of those pages. Odd how memory fails and the mind makes up stuff--I could have sworn there were several pages of color, but there weren't.
After looking at that yearbook for a few moments, I picked up my Junior yearbook. I love the cover of that yearbook, and I used to know all kinds of stories about it (Kelly could probably still tell you every bit of it, I think)... it seems like some of the items on the cover belonged to me, but for the life of me I'm not sure what would have been mine.
I opened to the Swing Choir/Jazz Band page, and as the kids were laughing at my hair and clothes, I noticed Brad was next to me in the group photo. I pointed him out and said, "There's Brad."
This then led to them asking who Brad was, and since they knew I'd gone to a funeral this week, I told them he was the friend who recently passed away.
Again, they're funny sometimes. You get reactions you don't expect. They actually didn't say anything "typical 7th grade", and for the most part were silent and respectful for a good 15 seconds. Then they went back to talking about my hair and clothes.
Then I stumbled across the last page of the book. It was originally blank, but Brad had signed it. Had I been reading it alone, it might have been hard to maintain. Luckily, I had several students all around me. Being referred to as "best friend in the Universe"... well, what do you say? "Wow," has to do, right?
Anyway, I read faster than all of them, but someone skipped ahead to the shocking "v" word in the text, and I had to close the book and move on to the next one. But here it is:
(Click it to see a larger version of it.)
Let me explain some things, now...
First, I don't know what "Arnold" means. I imagine there's some story there, and I imagine it was something we laughed about a lot... but I can't remember it at all. The rest of the names all ring a bell.
I don't remember the junior high game at Highland, but I do remember cramming a lot of people around lunch tables. And I'm vague on the leech reference, but I'm sure I was gladly paying him Tuesday for a hamburger today.
I forgot it was me who introduced him to Doctor Who (sorry, Chris) and The Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy. As soon as I read it, I started remembering conversations, but in my head, we both brought those into the friendship.
Parties at Kelly's house: check.
Conversations on TW... means conversations we had while sitting on my car, which I had named TW (for Time Warp, from the song in Rocky Horror). When I drove by their house the other day, that was one thing I thought of: hanging out in that semicircle driveway, talking for hours on end--usually sitting on the hood of my car.
Elbow " ": If you're a Rocky Horror Picture Show freak, you know what goes between the quotes. Rhymes with clucking. It's a move Riff Raff and Magenta do a few times throughout the movie--Brad and I would do that particular move whenever we could convince the DJ at the dance to play my recording of The Time Warp--in addition to the steps prescribed by the lyrics, that is.
I have no idea who Ed Clay is/was/ever shall be. Apparently I knew who he was once, though.
Again, I don't have to explain for RHPS freaks, but "celebrate losing my virginity" has to do with seeing the movie for the first time... (I think that explains it pretty well to the unenlightened, don't you, Brad?)
"Spirit of Light" may have been the convention we never made it to my last year at MTHS--or it may be a convention we didn't make it to at all (everything I find online says SoL conventions were a Chicago "area" thing, and I know the one we were going to was in St. Louis... which doesn't strike me as being in the Chicago "area"). I think I remember Roger and Rick, but maybe those are two other guys I'm thinking of. I'm pretty sure they were the guys we tried to start a sci-fi club with in Hannibal.
There was no graduation party. I didn't go to Kirksville. I did, however, panic.
The pictures on the bottom right-hand side: The top one is Brad's visual interpretation of the blue-and-white checkerboard Van's I had (and I think he ended up getting a pair, too). The bottom one is the T.A.R.D.I.S., which is what Doctor Who uses to get around all of space-time.
So back to that wasted despair...
I went to college and did my best to forget everything MTHS. I came back to Ralls County on occasion, and I survived just fine. But I did manage to forget a lot. Just reading that one page in the yearbook proved that to me.
This isn't about regret (Kelly made it very clear my final 24 hours of regret were over about 48 hours ago, and Lyndsey might come over here with a shovel (or lots of company, which might be better) if she thinks I'm sitting here regretting and digging up more regret). It's about just realizing something I did to myself. It's made most clear when my college friends wonder who the heck this Brad guy was, as he wasn't part of the "back home" cast of characters they're familiar with.
As we fade out of this scene, somebody play the theme song from "The Breakfast Club"...
In other news, and as a reward for reading this far: there's a link to my new photo blog on the link list for STILL: Life. If you're chompin' at the bit to see a new picture of ME every day, that's the place to be!