It’s probably safe to say that I have an addictive personality. My sizable stash of yarn, my affection for coffee, the piles of purchased but unread books in my room, and my tendency to listen to the same song over and over again for hours are only a few manifestations of this particular quirk.
While I don’t devote hours to analyzing my soul in the hopes of figuring out why I get so attached to certain objects or rituals, I can’t help but wonder if it’s closely related to my habit of romanticizing the past. The knitting habit (currently interrupted by the rigors of college) may tie in with happy memories of knitting for hours during childhood summers. Songs trigger happy and sometimes not-so-happy memories and listening to the song is a way of resurrecting past images. Coffee—well, it has caffeine and it tastes good, so I’m pretty much doomed to be hooked, aren’t I?
If there’s one addiction that’s related to nostalgia, it’s definitely the fondness for school supplies.
Once upon a time, when I was a little girl and only ever had to worry about being a little girl, school starting was an exciting prospect. New things to read, new things to learn, new friends to make, old friends to see again—and of course, the obligatory restocking of the school supply reserve. Mother and I would sally forth on Tax-free Weekend (a recognized holiday on the Rambler family calendar) to the nearest retail outlet of our choice to buy pencils, notebooks, paper, pens, protractors, and binders. We’d hunt for deals on shoes and skirts, the appearances of which shifted from year to year in conjunction with my evolving tastes. This was my favorite day of every summer. I have always enjoyed shopping with my mom, but back-to-school shopping was the best.
Inevitably, wherever I roam, whether it be to a different state or a different country, if I have the opportunity, I will find the school supply section of whatever store I happen to enter. I love thumbing through empty composition books and admiring the boxes of sunny yellow Ticonderoga pencils.
One of the sadnesses of college is that there is a diminished need for school supplies. There is no need for colorful erasers or protractors or compasses. Nifty pencil cases are passé, and since so much is done via computer anymore, there is even precious little use for pens or pencils. It used to be I would get new notebooks every year, but during my last post-semester reorganization, I realized that the notebooks I already had would last me well through my final two semesters of college. All I bought for the upcoming school year was a new planner, since the other one ran out of months.
I don’t know why this makes me sad. But it does.
One day, if I have children as well as cats, I’ll be able to relive the coming of September, but from a different perspective. I’ll finally be the one footing the bill for the things my children need for school. Hopefully everything won’t be computerized by then. Every child should know what it means to hold a freshly sharpened pencil; to face the incoming tide of learning well-equipped; prepared to make lasting memories of their own.