Purging the Yearbooks and Other Worthless Things
Posted on January 21, 2017

I just did a strangely therapeutic thing. I threw away my yearbooks. 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 dwell on the past or pine for the good ol’ days. I like to try new things, learn from experience, and move on. I am always looking forward to the next chapter, the next goal, the next challenge, whatever, as long as it’s next.

My wife and I moved a lot during the first decade of our relationship, most of it work-related. We’ve done regional moves, cross-country moves, and international moves. On average, we moved about twice per year, which taught us to loathe many of our possessions.

You know what sucks? Moving heavy crap from one place to another. You know what really sucks? Moving heavy crap that you never use from one place to another.

We moved so often that we decided to implement some rules to make our transitions easier. First, we decided to own nothing that couldn’t be moved by a single person. No more sleeper sofas, only chairs and sectionals. Second, we invested in reusable bins to eliminate the hunt for cardboard boxes. That alone significantly reduced the headaches. And third, we resolved to chuck or donate any non-seasonal item that we hadn’t touched in three months. But for some reason, certain items enjoyed immunity from that rule, like yearbooks.

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 from 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 crap from place to place, having never looked at any of them for more than a few seconds.

No more. I am done carting around the past.

And so, I trashed it all. I threw away boxes of old letters and report cards. I threw away picture albums filled with 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. Much to my non-surprise, I didn’t feel a damn thing. I read notes and browsed pictures, all linked to people I don’t remember or care about. To be honest, it felt like snooping inside the life of a different person. And in a sense, I was. I’m not that person anymore, so why carry the baggage?

That’s when I thought about Uncle Rico from Napoleon Dynamite, the ultimate man-child. I went to a small-town high school where everybody married each other after graduation. I was one of the lucky few who escaped, opting to explore the world and expand my horizon. Every year, that town gets smaller and smaller. And yet, the relics get heavier and heavier. I realized that in order to make room for new experiences, I needed to shed the dead weight.

In short, the yearbooks had to go.

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