School supplies and other magical things

Do you remember what it was like getting ready to go back to school at the end of the summer?

I had a flashback as I was wandering through Target, amazed at how much I could be compelled to buy a notebook just by a lovely design on its cover. (They really do have some seriously cute ones. Stationery addiction alert.)

I remember getting excited when the new Sears catalog arrived in it's Bible-like glory, full of perky teen girls in overstyled ensembles. I would page through it over and over, folding down corners of outfits I liked. The September issues of magazines that went on the stands in August were always the thickest ones, full of fall fashion, telling us what to wear (what to buy), full of sweaters, corduroys, boots, hats and scarves that seemed unimaginable in Texas heat.  I drank it all in as I began plotting my back to school fashion. Finally there was the anticipated trip to the mall, the one where my mother and I would fight at least once. And then the clothes were bought and sat waiting for the first day of school to be worn, even though it would still be too hot to wear them.

I remember picking out my folders and pens and spiral notebooks and trapper keepers - all of which were chosen carefully to express the very essence of my personality and taste. I remember notebooks of horses, kittens, and glittery holograms. Those notebooks were constant companions over the course of the year, graffitied, beaten, battered, and carried everywhere.

Each year, as I picked my clothes and my school supplies, it was as if I were making such crucial choices. I was not just deciding what to buy, but who to be, defining myself by them, as if by these choices alone I could re-make myself into a new girl with new friends and experiences and possibilities waiting.

Now that I'm older, this time of year has no clear dividing line between relaxation and the renewal of effort. My life goes on continually, seemingly without seasons. But there are echoes.

I still like the September issue of Lucky, full of temptations to buy things I don't need. I plan out my fall wardrobe as if it were a serious endeavor, even though I won't be able to wear fall clothes until nearly November. I like to wander through the back to school section of Target, looking at the newest trends. And I feel like a teenager again when I pick out an aqua blue sharpie and fresh new notebook to be mine, all mine.

Do you have any back to school rituals that have lingered?


  1. I am on my way to target now! They DO have the best supplies, and I love to repeat the "back to school" experience myself each August. Great post!

  2. oh the trappers! I'm a well-designed notebook addict. I've been dreaming of Target lately... I must just have to buckle down and shovel the entire stationery aisle into my cart.

  3. The Sears catalog! Can you imagine any young girl even deigning to look at a Sears catalog today (that is, if they're still around even)? But, oh the joy of daydreams in those pages!


  4. I haven't been able to give up the back-to-school shopping "spree" yet, despite the lack of school. I always get my pens and notebooks and folders in August, and it really does help me refocus on writing.
    I love that notebook!

  5. I agree with everything here. I grew up in Texas as well, and most of the time I couldn't wear those awesome new clothes until late September. Usually they premiered at the Comal County Fair. Oh, how I loved that fair.

  6. I'm glad I'm not the only one who still gets a little giddy about back to school. By the way, there are these two-sided sharpies now that I just love. One end is a regular sharpie - the other is a fine tip. Yes. I am a dork.