It sat in the corner of my closet collecting dust, and when I opened it, the binding made the same crackling sounds my knees do after sitting too long.

My old high school yearbook.

It sat in the corner of my closet collecting dust, and when I opened it, the binding made the same crackling sounds my knees do after sitting too long.

My old high school yearbook.

Appropriately titled 1995, my junior year, I felt as old as the Pirate on the cover looked.

Turning to the page displaying my face among other recognizable ones, Connor and Logan stood over my shoulder laughing at the nest topping my forehead (holy bangs, Batman) and my always messy attempt at make-up on picture day.  

Marked with hearts in the corner of their headshots were my two closest friends to whom I delivered top secret information via perfectly folded notes with their names written on the front in multicolored swirly handwriting.

In most cases, the sensitive information regarded a certain boy who spoke three words to me in four years. It was history class our sophomore year, and he pointed to a pencil that rolled off my desk.

“You dropped that.”

Resembling an open-mouthed bass, I stared at him without words until he shrugged and sat down a few desks behind me.

And with that kind of chemistry, it’s really a wonder as to why the two of us never ended up together. Then again, looking at his picture now, life is just full of surprising twists.

Fourteen pages away in the senior class photos was a different boy whose class ring I now keep in my jewelry box to give one of our kids someday. No hearts were drawn around his face though; in fact, he received no recognition at all from my fifteen-year-old self.

Of course, I wouldn’t meet him for another year or so, but even if I had already met him, he wasn’t my type yet anyway.

Flipping to the blank pages in the back of the book where friends scribbled messages to remember them by, none of them dreamed that twenty years later my ten-year-old would try to decipher their handwriting. From girls professing their forever friendship (some of which are still friends to this day) to well wishes for the future, Connor mulled over one short entry.

Stay cool!

He read it out loud and laughed. “Mom, where you really cool back then?”

I laughed and shook my head. “Nope, I was not cool in school and I’m not cool now.”

That fact was proven when I giggled a moment later and said, “Cool in school—that rhythms.” (Don’t pretend you didn’t notice it too.)

I was just never equipped for such a social status. Some days I tried too hard, which meant coughing through a haze of Aquanet and throwing a flowered denim jacket over tight-rolled jeans. Other days, I dragged myself onto the bus with my hair flat against my forehead and my pants freely flopping around my ankles—both of which were social suicide in the nineties.

Then again, it really didn’t matter; I couldn’t accessorize the insecurities out of me. No matter how stylish (a term used loosely when referring to me) I was always the girl who tripped up the stairs, spaced out in gym, and snored (and drooled) through Spanish.

But this yearbook full of faces reminds me that the things I was most insecure about back then are not what people remember about me now.

And it’s amazing how my walls fell once I stopped trying to be cool.

From Facebook connections to various jobs or activities, some of the former classmates who I believed were out of my league at school are now people I consider friends. Now sharing stories and lives with many of the girls I was afraid to walk up to in the hallways reminds me just how human we all are.

We grew up.

Most of us are just living life and making jokes about how much we hate Mondays, or having awkward conversations at Walmart (and then trying to avoid another awkward conversation when we run into each other ten more times before the trip is over).

Two decades later, I ponder on what seems like a lifetime ago but feels like yesterday all at the same time, and I can’t help but think one thing.

Where in the world did all that time go?