No, not mine. Well — you get those thoughts, too. But I wouldn’t be having them without Eileen Reynolds’s excellent “An Appreciation of the Humble High School Yearbook,” as posted on the New Yorker (in the publicly-viewable section, so no need to worry about my recent harsh words for their paywall).
It’s a touching essay for all those of us who had, signed, and especially worked on high school yearbooks. Since much of it is written in the context of schools searching for cheaper and more Internet-savvy alternatives to yearbooks there’s a good deal of wistful comparisons; I was touched to see this passage so shortly on the heels of my own odd experience with post-mortem Facebook tributes:
I still remember my favorite yearbook message of all time, a single line from the sixth grade: “Keep practicing your bassoon and one day you’ll make it to Radio City Music Hall.” It’s short, it’s specific, and I think there’s a compliment buried in there, along with a kind of enigmatic joke. (Why Radio City and not Carnegie?) The person who wrote it—a goofy guy with a quick wit and a good heart—was killed in a traffic accident three years after our high-school graduation. I think of that message often, and I prefer the scraggly boyish handwriting to the ghostly Facebook memorial.
Between that and the pressure of coming up with the perfect memorable-yet-original-yet-acceptable message to sign with (I believe I wrote “you are holding the book upside down” upside down near the top of the cover most years), I felt a real connection to the author of the article. And hey, isn’t that what our yearbooks were supposed to do…?