Eighteen years ago I was getting ready to graduate high school. Very little mattered more than Grad Night and yearbooks at that point, for it was the end of an era.
‘Have a GREAT summer!’
‘Best of luck in college’
The mountain of insipid messages we were leaving for each other as a thin veil for the real uncertainty we were feeling was overwhelming. How do you close a four year chapter of the greatest changes any of you have ever experienced? Sure, we did so many group projects together we practically peed in groups of four, but would we be the same person in another few months? Would they? Cell phones weren’t a thing, so giving out your parent’s phone number seemed weird for the ‘Keep In Touch’ message, and as we were the earliest millennials we resorted to the bizarre personal email addresses (almost every one at Hotmail) we’d developed over the years.
On the other end of the spectrum was our last chance to confess anything – one good friend signed my yearbook with a reminiscence about our mutual crushes during freshman year – only this was the first I was learning about his past crush – with a note not to tell my current boyfriend. AWKWARD! Baring ones soul in the margins near your picture seemed like a reasonable course of action, right?
In those tomes would be the final words you would record for the people who shaped your dearest moments, the epitaph of your childhood and your first steps into the adult world. I had a small graduating class, which somehow made each of those just over one hundred entries weigh that much more for your classmates, not counting teachers and underclassman you’d connected with. It was a sign of deep trust to utter the words “Will you sign my yearbook?”
Looking back I see how young we still were, how much left there was to go and grow, but in that moment it was a deep divide we were crossing.