Jigsaw

The end is drawing near.

The seniors will graduate soon, and they’re starting to get all weepy. We sent the final issue of the newspaper to the printer today. Yesterday I watched the editor proofread the seniors’ Last Wills. She boohooed from A to Z. All I could do was hand her a box of tissues.

Feeling rather nostalgic, I went home and dug up my senior yearbook. I have to admit I teared up too. It’s hard to believe how quickly time passes, how people change, how fickle life is.

When’s the last time you looked at your old yearbook? I’ll bet you’ll see some of these quotes:

“Please always be my friend.”

“Stay the same, and you’ll go far.”

“I’ll never forget you.”

“R.M.A.”

Lies. All of them.

Oh, at the time the writers really meant it. But those kids in the yearbook don’t exist anymore.

Why is it I feel like I’m the only one who hasn’t changed? I’m not talking physically. I’m talking mentally, emotionally. I guess I just haven’t grown up yet.

I never really left my old high school. I still remember where I sat in homeroom, and I still remember where I used to hang out in the mornings. I still remember driving our beloved band director nuts and counting the steps between the yard lines on the football field for our flag routine with the band. (How in the world did I do that? All those people? Crazy.)

I believe if I could push a button and rewind time I wouldn’t have a problem stepping back into yesterday. I could still find my old seat in Mr. Burton’s room. And I meant every word I wrote in those yearbooks. I’m sure of it.

If by some freak of nature one of you is reading this blog, I challenge you to go back to your yearbook. What’s the funniest thing someone wrote? Has anything written stood the test of time? Did I write in your book? If so, what?

Kids at my school have their yearbook day next week. I’ve learned something over the years. I’ll always be Mrs. L. to them, but they won’t always be the charming little cherubs in the second row. Someday they’ll be doctors, business owners, moms, and dads. Now when I teach, I remind myself I’m not just teaching a child, I’m teaching my future colleague, dentist, mechanic, or nursing home attendant. (I always, always try to be nice—if you know what I mean. Unfortunately, I know several who are already plotting their revenge.)

The cool thing about being a writer and an English teacher is that I love novels. I love talking about novels (and writing them). A novel is ALWAYS present tense even if it’s written in past tense. Why? Because each time a reader opens the cover, it’s happening—now. Again and again and again.

There’s comfort in knowing some things will never change, like the details in a book. But that’s not the case with the yearbook. Sure we can open it and relive our glory days, but only for a moment.

As I looked back on mine tonight, I was able to see random pieces of the puzzle that make up the writer I am today.

I guess in some ways it’s the story of what made me, me.

 

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