Katrina asked me to proofread her Senior Portfolio tonight (the local high school here requires each senior to create a portfolio and go through an interview, prior to graduating). She came by, and as I was looking over the various things she's included, I recalled that I'd done a portfolio myself, all those years ago. I asked Shawna where it was.
"The garage," she said.
I looked at her with trepidation. A trip to the garage: a fearful endeavor under any circumstances. Was a mere portfolio worth it?
I decided to brave it. I grabbed a bottled water, stuck a few granola bars in my pocket, found an extension cord and tied one end around my waist and the other around the garage doorknob, and kissed Shawna goodbye (our garage is-put nicely-a jungle. I hired a kid a few weeks ago to help clean it; our insurance company is still trying to work things out with his family).
I never found the portfolio. But I did come in with a Rubbermaid container containing some things that looked interesting. It had various diplomas, my college mortar board and tassel, a model "PET Milk" tanker truck (don't ask...), a copy of the December 1993 issue of Popular Mechanics, a photo of Shawna and me at a Christmas party (when she was 15-we started young; remind me, I'll tell you sometime), a map of Alaska (I have NO idea), a set of instructions for an Erector Set (the old kind-with screws and metal pieces), and an entire collection of yearbooks from junior high and high school (except for my junior year; that one was missing. I think I might have hid it somewhere because it had the embarrassing comments by that girl-the one they said they paid to date me).
So, I spent an hour or so going through old yearbooks, reliving the good times (and the uncomfortable times), remembering folks I haven't thought of in years-being young again. I looked at pictures, and remembered trips to the beach and shaving a balloon that a guy named Ernest was holding in his mouth. I remembered my stint as president of the student council, and, on a shopping trip with the treasurer and secretary, sneaking out of Costco to teach the vice-president how to drive a manual transmission.
I remembered that goofy slicked back hairdo I used to wear, and I remembered the day that, because of some contest that we lost, I had to stand and take a homemade pie in the face (the pie filling was, I think, banana pudding, sardines, anchovies and anchovy juice, cool whip, and oatmeal), and then went to a friends house to shower (the stench was unbearable). And I remember how I was SO embarrassed that I had no way to put my rock-hard, slicked back hair into place, but all of the girls kept coming up to look at my hair-kept telling me how cool it looked.
And I remembered when my little sister decided to transfer to the school (it was a small private school). When I found out, I told everyone in the school that my little cousin would be starting there soon. I told them that we'd adopted her because her parents had died recently in an accident. I described in vague detail the accident, and then swore them to secrecy, as "she was very sensitive to the subject and blocks out the painful memories by calling my parents [her supposed aunt and uncle] Mom and Dad." And I remember, months after I'd forgotten that I'd told this tall tale, Nan's (that's my Sister) teacher delicately broaching the subject with Mother in some sort of conference, and Mother replying that she had NO idea what the teacher was talking about.
Homework on the locker room floor; my best friend punching me in the stomach and knocking me out (literally) in the hallway; shocking myself silly trying to suck a metal tab out of a receptacle with my mouth; joining (for some reasons still somewhat unclear to me) the schools underground women's liberation movement; and that girl-the one they (apparently) paid to date me. Many fond memories; some not so fond.
And then I began reading the comments from friends. One of my favorites started out "Paul: You stinkin' jerk!" I can see, though, my gradual progression from the quiet "Picker"-type I described last week ("Paul: Stay cool! Have a great summer! C-ya next year."), to a semi-cool guy ("Oh man, what a year! I enjoyed sharing the end of the year with you; you are a lot of fun, you know? Don't change over the summer, and DON'T FORGET ABOUT ME! I'll miss you!..."), to a seemingly well-liked guy (this was written by the girl who I secretly had a crush on all through junior high and high school; I hope she doesn't read this blog! "There is SO much to say...thanks for all the WONDERFUL memories...you are a really great guy...not many around like you...I'm going to miss you!"). All in all, makes me feel pretty good.
Although, shegazelle still wrote, "Paul: I missed your stupid remarks this year." And Katie (of Life at the Booker Household fame) still wrote "...I can't even put that it's KINDA been nice knowing you, cause it hasn't! J/K!..." I think those remarks were laced with affection...
So, I sit here, with a wistful smile on my face, remembering the times that were-at the time-a drudgery, and now seem like the good life. Makes me sound old, doesn't it? I don't feel old. But when you start saying those were the good days (especially when they included Katie and shegazelle), you're old.
Excuse the use of this utterly valueless digital real-estate to dredge up old, pleasant memories, and I hope you don't feel I've wasted too much of your time.
Now, if you'll excuse me, I've got to get send Katie and shegazelle both a REALLY NICE email!