Author's note: Read the hilarious excerpt from my yearbook that I included in a picture in the story. I think it is priceless! ... Oh.. and I didn't mean to have the provocative sexy legs of the Spartan being the only thing cut into the pic... we all just got lucky there. ;)
Day 1890ishI’m a high school graduate. It’s more melancholy than I expected. There’s a sadness to it, a finality. I keep telling everyone that I can’t wait to go to college, but it’s less about excitement and more about escape. The past year has been an uphill battle, with the most strenuous part of the climb at the very end, when I was the most exhausted, every little jealous incident with Ryan feeling worse, and seeming grimmer as we get closer to adulthood.
On the last day of school, when my friends were having him sign their yearbooks, I handed him mine as well. I knew it wasn’t just a casual exchange. What do you write in a piece of lifelong memorabilia after everything we’ve been through? There is no way “Have a nice summer,” does the trick when you’re graduating seniors. We were way beyond, “Hey call me, and let’s go have some fun.” Shoot, I had people sign my yearbook, teasing me that I was still going to marry him!
I didn’t know what I could possibly get away with writing in his yearbook, so I decided it was genius to have him sign mine first, then base what I wrote on what he wrote.
When I handed him the yearbook, his eyebrows pulled tight over his eyes. He handed his to me in exchange and I sat down nearby. Handfuls of our fellow classmates were sitting next to stacks of yearbooks, chattering and signing all around us. He had a couple of yearbooks in his hands, and he put mine at the bottom. He asked me several times over the next few minutes if I had signed his yet. Obviously I hadn’t, as per the plan, and I think he was hoping to turn the plan around and use it on me. The truth was there was absolutely nothing that we could write that would sound okay on a yearbook page. Nothing. That’s what we ended up writing. We both put it off, left them at the bottom of the stacks we were signing and then ran out of time. Like near strangers, we patronized each other with, “Oh I didn’t get to it yet,” and “That’s okay, we’ll do it later.”
He’s gone now. He moved away to work a summer job selling and delivering pianos with his older brother. We didn’t say goodbye. I didn’t watch him go. I turned away, and told myself that now I’d be able to forget about him for sure.
I keep very busy. I got my first job. I simply enter data into a computer, but I really like it. I’m getting faster and faster at typing, and I prefer being at a computer to other jobs that are available to teenagers. I’m getting to know new people, my co-workers, and I always enjoy that.
Because I’m Miss Peach Days, I got coaxed into participating in the county level scholarship pageant and I won! I couldn’t believe it! I’ve never felt like such a star. I was surrounded by people hugging me, little girls tugging on my sequined gown asking me to sign their programs and take pictures with them. My living room is filled with bouquets of congratulatory flowers. There are responsibilities too. I’m obligated to represent my County in the Miss Utah pageant and other events. I’ll be brushing shoulders with some of the most accomplished girls in the state and, heaven help me, I’m going to have to start preparing for interview questions by watching… the news.
I’m learning so much about who I am and who I want to be. I’m learning more about make-up and hair and fashion too. Sometimes it’s even a little hard to know where my priorities ought to be, because I want to do a lot of good in this world and make a difference, but I also just want to be striking and get the attention of cute boys and… well, honestly… feel like I could compete with all of those barbielicious girls that Ryan dated.
I’m all styled right now with my new make-up techniques and the curls my hairstylist taught me to do and I’m zipping around the shrine of cards, banners, pictures, my crown and all of the fresh flowers, arranged in beautiful glass vases in my house like a busy little bee, taking things out to my car and readying for a photo shoot appointment that I have in half an hour. The sun is shining, but the breeze is cool and there’s a happy, carefree way about my world. I happen to be headed out toward my car with my arms full when I see Ryan’s dad drive slowly by in his truck, and Ryan is in the passenger seat.
I can’t help it. You don’t know how I wish I could, but I can’t. My heart jumps right up into my throat. I see the truck pull into their driveway and I see Ryan get out and start walking down the street, at a fairly brisk pace, toward me. My heart may be in my throat, my hands may be shaking, but he doesn’t need to know that. I take plenty of time arranging my things in the back seat of my car, so he’s close enough to shout “hi” and make his presence known by the time I’m finished.
“Amie,” he says, “Or should I call you Miss Emery County? You won! It’s so awesome! Congratulations!”
He reaches his arms out, like so many friends and strangers alike had that night on the stage, and he hugs me. Just a congratulatory hug.
“Thanks!” I say. “I couldn’t believe I won!”
“I can. I just can’t believe I wasn’t there to see it. I really wanted to be there, and my Mom told me every detail over the phone.”
“Really? I’m sorry you had to go through that,” I say, with a smile and a wink.
“No, no. I asked her. I wanted to know everything. She said you were amazing.”
“Ah. I love your Mom. She’s so sweet and always supportive of me.”
We’re still standing out in the middle of my front lawn and all of the initial, easy stuff to say has almost been exhausted. We’re almost to the, “Oh man, every sentence I think to write in that blasted yearbook is the wrong thing to say,” stage. We’re about to reach the awkward point where we can’t think of any more sentences that are okay.
“You look like you’re getting ready to go somewhere,” he says.
“Yeah, I have a ton to do today. I have to go get pictures taken in just a few minutes.”
I don’t ask him if he’s just in town for the weekend because I know he is and because I’m not supposed to care. Besides, I really am busy. I really do have a life, and for the past weeks it hasn’t involved running into him with a pack of girls at social gatherings or watching for his bedroom light. He’s gone, and I’m busy.
“Well, I better let you go then,” he says with a brilliant white smile.
“Yeah,” I say, “Thanks for stopping by. It was great to see you.” I sound like someone who just won a scholarship pageant, all of the residual confidence beaming from me.
I turn and I walk back into the house, and the really amazing thing is: I just go right back up to my room and gather up the next things on my list. I don’t flop on my bed and take deep breaths, or look at myself in the mirror and try to talk myself out of a freak out. I go right on about my way with a peaceful satisfaction. I think to myself, “If that was the last time we ever talk, I’d like that ending. I could feel good about that memory. I wouldn’t have to bury that one in the backyard.”