Most Likely to Recede
There are high school memories and college ones--but there's no comparing them.
By Scott Dailey
Not long ago, my local newspaper reported that a middle school yearbook featuring an autograph from Jeremy Lin, the sudden superstar of the NBA's New York Knicks, was being offered on eBay for $4,800.
I could lampoon the silliness of fad-crazy sports fans. (At the time, the undeniably talented Lin had starred for a mere fortnight.) I could say something pointed about people who have too much money. Instead, I'm being far more practical.
I'm putting my high school yearbook up for sale.
In it, you'll find imposing pictures of me with the track and cross-country teams (the latter, league champs), as well as with the student council and the jazz band. Fortunately, there are no photos from the Reno Jazz Festival or Senior Ditch Day, about which certain details best remain unpublished.
So far as I am aware, no one from my class is famous. People mainly went off to work or state college; they became teachers, engineers and business people, secretaries and plumbers, even a minister (a startling vocation for that person; again, discretion calls).
The chronicle of my senior year brings together full-page photos from football games, band concerts, dances and other staples. But it's the autographs that play with your emotions. The longest is from my sort-of girlfriend. It's signed, "Love? Donna." The most intriguing is from a radiant young woman whose name I didn't even know. We smiled each day as we passed in the hall, and she started a bold, heartfelt message that suddenly ended, "Darn! I just found out you're graduating!"
My male friends were considerably more confident about the future. With varying degrees of crudeness, they wished me success. When I meet these now-respectable gentlemen at class reunions (one naval officer in dress whites comes to mind), it's a little like watching the end of Animal House, wherein John Belushi's irrepressible Bluto Blutarsky has become a senator.
In a way, I suppose, that's the point. We grow up; we move on. I still enjoy our reunions, but they represent a time that grows ever distant and holds little nostalgia.
We exchange phone numbers and email addresses, and promise to get in touch. Unlike with my college buddies, we never do.
I've stayed in contact with my closest college friends since graduation. We've vacationed together, attended each other's weddings, consoled each other over divorces and lost parents. This past winter, an old roommate came to visit and we just hung out for the day. I live near campus, and at one point we stood on Wilbur Field and relived our touch-football exploits. Our walk also took us by the spot near Toyon Hall where I experienced an unforgettable kiss.
What's the difference between our high school and college friends? It's easy to say that in high school we were kids but in college we shared the experiences that transformed us into adults. But late adolescence is more than just the gateway to adulthood. Psychologists tell us our college years are among the most impressionable times of life. Triumphs, failures, tastes, dreams, loves—all become magnified. For better or for worse, they stay with us. And the people who were with us then are likely, years later, to be among the closest to us now.
They're the ones we still stay up with late at night, talking baseball, politics, music and books. They're the ones whose opinions still matter greatly. They're the ones we still ask for advice, the ones whose birthdays we (almost) never forget, the ones we turn to in times of delight and in times of pain.
Which is why, if anyone ever offers up $4,800, I'm letting my high school yearbook go. But my yearbook from college? Name any price—it stays.
Scott Dailey, '76, lives in Redwood City, Calif.
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Data is from the past two weeks.