School supplies were kind of my jam back in the day. In fact, even now whenever I enter serious business negotiations, I always lead with slowly splitting the Velcro seal on my Transformers Trapper Keeper in order to let the intimidation set in. You other professionals can have your leather padfolios but I bet they don’t have a built-in pencil-case or a secret milk money pocket.
I always liked school supplies because the idea of organization is very appealing to me. It is the execution of said organization that I find dreadfully boring and difficult to maintain. The first day of school was always my most organized day of the year because my backpack was full of fresh pencils and unbent folders and all of my crayons were present and accounted for in a box with no frayed and torn edges. Basically by day two, I had doodled on all of my folders, lost three crayons, spilled my glue and managed to crumple every important handout into one paper lump in the bottom of my Jansport.
The first day of school was also the day that my shoes were the cleanest which meant I was at the apex of my jumping and running abilities. Maybe the first night or so I would get home and try to rub out the new scuffs with a wet paper towel but by the end of the week they looked like those Nikes that Forrest Gump ran across the country in. Only they weren’t Nikes, they were Pro-Wings which were similar to Nikes only the swoosh went the other way, the colors weren’t as cool, and they cost about 20% of what Nikes did.
I loved the new school supplies because regardless of their looming destiny of being lost, broken, or crumpled, for that brief moment they were pristine and full of promise. Not to overload the Tom Hanks references but I think he summed up the allure of new school supplies best when his character Joe Fox told Kathleen Kelly (Meg Ryan) “I would send you a bouquet of newly sharpened pencils.” Much like a bouquet of flowers, my pencils would wither and die in no time but for that moment they were perfect. There is a little bit of magic in that first day of school as you feel your independence start to swell inside of you and realize that you will have a hand in charting your own course. Even if it is only that you are in charge of your pencils and glue sticks, you are still the boss of something.
I don’t know if you remember the last time you had one of those little lumps form in the back of your throat but my daughter started first grade today, so for me it was this morning. Regardless of their inevitable demise, the perfectness of brand new school supplies is totally sweet.
Yep, you read that last part right. Today the high in Atlanta is 90 degrees and kids are headed back to school. Where does the time go? Sure, they get out at the beginning of May now but it still just doesn’t feel right. While I will admit that the first day of school can be sweet, it pales in comparison to the weakness of the last day of summer vacation. The last day of summer vacation is like the Sunday night blues times infinity. You start to worry that they might have really been serious about that summer reading list but there is no use in starting now and you suddenly feel like you didn’t chew near enough gum during the summer and it is about to be forbidden.
You try to look on the bright side and consider your new kicks and school clothes but no matter what your mom says, you know that the little knight on the horse holding a flag on your Knights of the Round Table shirt looks nothing like the real Polo logo. At least you were able to avoid the Rose Art crayon incident of last year and you got your mom to spring for some Crayolas (not that anyone forgot your loser crayons).
You don’t even consider it at the time because you are excited about your new duds but somewhere around getting off the bus, you realize you are that kid that wore his back to school sweater and stiff dark blue Rustler jeans even though it is August and almost 100 degrees outside. Your new supplies are nice but eventually you realize that your Trapper Keeper must have been last year’s model on clearance because it didn’t come with a glow in the dark protractor or vinyl mesh pocket on the inside. Quickly any first day magic fades away and cold hard fact that summer is over washes over you.
I guess there are two kinds of people in the world, those that call it the night before the first day of school, and those that call it the last day of summer vacation. For me, I was like a sailor watching his final day of shore leave evaporate around him. That day was always a last day and never a day before a first. I suppose book learnin’ is still important so off to school they go but when the fat lady is entering the final chorus of your summer of freedom, it is totally weak.