Purging the Yearbooks and Other Worthless Things

I just did a strangely therapeutic thing. I threw away my yearbooks. Yup, all of them, every grade from first to twelfth. And I’m here to tell you … it felt fantastic.

I have never been one to hang onto memories. I don’t dwell on the past. I just learn from my mistakes and move on like a healthy human being. I am always looking forward to the next chapter, the next goal, the next challenge, whatever, as long as it’s next.

I’m a purger by nature, call me an anti-hoarder. My wife and I moved a lot during the first decade of our relationship. Some of it was work-related, others were housing or lifestyle-related. On average, we moved about twice a year. And you know what sucks? Moving heavy shit from one place to another. And you know what really sucks? Moving heavy shit that you never use from one place to another.

We moved so often that we decided to implement some rules in order to make our lives easier. First, we decided to own nothing that couldn’t be moved by one person. No more sleeper sofas, only sectional couches. Second, we invested in reusable plastic bins instead of hunting down cardboard boxes. That decision alone significantly cut down on headaches. Third, we would chuck/donate anything that we hadn’t touched in three months, with the exception of seasonal items. But for some reason, certain items enjoyed immunity from that rule, yearbooks included.

I was taught growing up that memories matter. You’ll want to re-read those grade school love letters. You’ll want to revisit those pictures of family vacations. You’ll want to recapture your youth by looking through yearbooks. I’m now pushing 40 and you know what I never want to do? Any of those things. And yet, I lug boxes of this shit from place to place, having never looked at any of them for more than a few seconds.

No more. I’m done lugging around the past.

And so, I chucked it all. I threw away shoe boxes full of report cards and love letters. I threw away picture albums full of vague things I barely remember. And most importantly, I threw away a stack of heavy yearbooks. I even took a few minutes to glance through them, wondering how I would feel. Not surprisingly, I didn’t feel a damn thing. I read notes from people I don’t remember or care about. I looked through pictures I don’t remember or care about. To be honest, it felt like I was snooping inside the life of a different person. And in a sense, I was. I’m not that person anymore, so why was I carrying them around?

That’s when I thought about Uncle Rico from Napoleon Dynamite. Is there anything more pathetic than a grown ass adult stuck in the past? I went to a small town high school where everybody married each other after graduation and settled down. They all attend the class reunions and I bet they still look at their yearbooks. I was one of the few that escaped and opted to explore the world, which drastically expanded my views. Year after year, that town gets smaller and smaller. I’ve grown as a human being and I hunger for fresh perspectives. And as I fill my life with new and exciting adventures, I have to make space by purging the old and worthless. In short, the yearbooks had to go.