I'm in a bedroom that used to be mine in my younger years at the house in Conquest. It's a cleanup day, and I've decided to tackle the room's closet, where apparently I managed to stuff every conceivable magazine, book, piece of clothing, old toys, CDs, and assorted knick-knacks over the years.
Some books end up coming with me to my apartment in Outlook, as do some clothes, including a vintage Calgary Hitmen WHL jersey that I got for Christmas in 1995.
Stuff's being bagged up and loaded out, and by this point I think I'm on my fourth or fifth garbage bag, and then I see them.
Wow. I honestly thought that I'd lost these years ago and that they were probably thrown out, but here they were.
My old high school yearbooks!
I graduated from Outlook High School in June 2004 with my fellow Blues, and I like to think that we were one of the last senior classes who went to school every day without social media or even texting. Websites like Facebook and Twitter were still a year or two out, and the same goes for the whole "Every kid has a cell phone wired into their hands" craze.
Essentially, the Class of 2004 were some of the last kids on Earth who went to school and did stuff without their eyes glued to some form of screen. The only screens we watched were during computer class or when the teacher rolled in a TV before class started, at which point several of us looked at each other as if to say, "Sweet, it's a phone-in day, folks! We're watching TV!"
Yes sir, we were a primitive species back then. As I sat there looking at my old yearbooks, with a tidal wave of memories coming at me and a smile comprised of sheer joyful remembrance, I stacked them up and put them off to the side. I still had a cleanup job ahead of me, and these were going to have to wait.
Sometimes you just have to delay gratification.
With that, the following night, I sat in my recliner with something cold to drink, some music lined up on YouTube, and I pulled the stack of five yearbooks up beside me. There was 1999, encompassing my Grade 8 year from 1998-99, and then I had the editions from 2001, 2002, 2003, and 2004. Yes, I know there's still a year missing in 2000, but coincidentally enough, that exact yearbook WAS in the old bedroom in Conquest - it just didn't happen to be MY yearbook! I managed to read through that particular edition weeks earlier, so in that sense, my curiosity was satisfied.
As I cracked open 1999, my face lit up. I'm seeing old friends, favorite teachers, and I'm reminded of the fun times that were had and the unique projects that were undertook. Grade 8 was certainly an interesting year, and I remembered so much about it that I loved.
Dipping into 2001, I was reminded of the circumstances in my life that had changed between those two yearbooks. In 1999, I was in Grade 8, having the time of my life with my friends and enjoying school projects, especially anything that required a video camera and the ability to create a script of any kind. By 2001, my environment had changed because I was actually held back in Grade 8, having to repeat it for the 1999/2000 academic year. I was surrounded by new faces and I was terrified about it at the time, including some very dark thoughts I had back then that, well, I'll just say that I don't need to delve any further.
However, I'm happy to say that I believe being held back was one of those things that was meant to happen in my life. If that didn't take place, I never would have met the guys who became my best friends to this very day, two decades and change later. It's funny how things happen in life that you think are all negative, but they turn out to be for the absolute best in the long run.
As I'm flipping through page after page and reading all sorts of material, including some comments written in the yearbooks that I won't repeat here (they know who they are!), I was not only reminded that my high school years were pretty damn special, but I was also reminded of something else: Outlook High School was an awesome place to go to school. From my perspective, our teachers knew how to ride the balance between being an authority figure when required, but they also knew when to just put the pencils down and have some fun. That was one of the elements that made going to school there a treat. It can't always be about English papers and science projects; sometimes, you just needed to cut loose, and our teachers understood that.
There were football championships won, which led to some memorable after parties, and there were about a thousand different field trips that produced their fair share of memories. Sometimes, the best memories were made in the classroom, such as my Grade 12 poem about what it meant to be Canadian that I recited to the class. It rode the line between "Hey, that's clever!" and "Wait a minute....GO TO THE PRINCIPAL'S OFFICE, DEREK!", but I managed to restrain myself to the point where our English teacher, Ms. Knutson, was totally cool about it. And hey, it produced laughs, so there's some more brownie points. If you remember that poem, good for you. If you don't, I'll see if I can dig it up somewhere.
As I went through book after book, all the memories of good times shared, incredible classes experienced, and unforgettable moments captured made for one of the best times I've had by myself in quite some time. Throughout things such as Mom passing away and everything connected with that, to things like making the move over to Outlook, I think I forgot how to just stop, take a breath, and reconnect with what's directly in front of me. Life can get hectic sometimes, and at times, it can also become sorrowful, but nights like this were exactly what the doctor ordered.
My trip down Memory Lane told me something I'm always going to remember. You can't live in the past, but sometimes, it's nice to return for a reminiscing visit. It's just good for the soul.
By the time I closed my 2004 yearbook and looked at the clock, it was 2:45 in the morning. Apparently, I'd lost track of time, but man, what a time-travelling trip it was.
To anyone I shared a classroom with, I'm thinking of you and I hope things in your life are going great, wherever you are now!
Twenty-year reunion in 2024...?
Class of '04 still rules.
OHS Blues 4 Lyfe.
For this week, that's been the Ruttle Report.