18 December 2010

The Yearbook

I claimed my college yearbook today.

While I think the design was so-so and my picture was terrible, I like the whole thing because it's artifact of my college years.

"Um. Duh, Kat. That's what yearbooks are supposed to be."

Sorry. It's just that I used to judge yearbooks, particularly yearbook photos and yearbook writeups, the snooty way. I'd scoff at how unoriginal the "creative" shots were, sneer at the shoddy writeups, and roll my eyes at the arrogant smirks. After seeing all these pa-cute poses, pa-rocker hand signs, pa-seductive pouts, cheesy song lyrics, bad poems, and writeups by SOs extolling how "wonderful," "sweet," "cool," and of course, "unique" the subjects were, I couldn't help but come away with my own conceited judgment:

Ha. You're not as special as you think you are.

But today, while leafing through the pages, no matter how "objectively" unoriginal, uninspired, or downright terrible the pictures or writeups were, I realized that these people were special. Some of them were special to me, of course, and not just because they were my roommates, orgmates, blockmates, etc. Of course there were people I saw every day for four years--people whose effect on my life is indelible.

After a while, though, I went over each page just to look for the familiar faces, people I passed in the hallway, went to one study group with and never saw again, admired from afar, etc. It's them I feel like paying albeit small tribute to today.

"Oh, there's that guy who hung out with Dave. There's that guy who looked like Carl Jon. There's that guy I had a mild flirtation with and then forgot about when I started going out with Tim. There's that guy who chatted to me about the Ataris one afternoon in the blue. There's that guy who helped out in our final presentation for English class.

"There's that girl that Joey was talking about at our last reunion. There's that girl that everybody had a crush on. There's half of that couple I saw everywhere. There's that girl who looked like a Korean pop star. There's that girl who used to be in Bio."

And so on.

As for the writeups, I couldn't help but feel that they summed up each person well enough. The people they'd chosen to write, the words they'd used, the form each writeup took--however wonderfully or terribly the job was done--were all perfect as artifacts. I can't bring myself think about how cool or uncool they are. I can only think of how each person must have felt upon sending their 15 lines in, after a couple of revisions, or none, or bugging a buddy to come up with something at the last minute. I think of how it must have felt, at the close of one's college years, to be satisfied--or unsatisfied--with how they're making their final impression.

Maybe sometime from now--maybe now, considering that we'll have tossed the yearbooks somewhere for our younger siblings to pore over by this time of day--younger kids will browse through our yearbook and sneer as I did. That doesn't matter to me. I mean, call us cheesy, call us corny, call us uncool or stupid if you want. But that's who we were. And somehow, whether only to our few friends or to some unknown admirer or to that one "random" guy we always passed on SEC walk on our way to Philo at 1450, we were special.

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