first day of school

Well friends, summer is coming to an end, and so is my month-long blog vacation. (I like to imagine the blog on a literal vacation. Went on a little blog cruise, ate way too much blog buffet, then one night at the karaoke bar, met a nice little blog from Phoenix and had itself a fling…so much long-distance commenting now. It’s sweet; they’re trying to make it work…)

There’s no excuse that good. I’ve just been disconnected. And I’ve let this group challenge slip. Hard. But the latest group question (mine, incidentally) feels appropriate for this week:

:::  Since this is the season of bouquets of sharpened pencils (You’ve Got Mail, obv), tell about a favorite school supply memory. This could be “I always loved markers!” or a specific anecdote about a particular item you remember (which, for me, might be my Lisa Frank Trapper Keeper. pink. cats on it. the best.)

There was no question mark involved in there, I know. But…you get it.  :::

So… to answer my own question: I think 4th grade was the year when we were first allowed to have Trapper Keepers. (That’s right, because I once inhabited a universe in which one was not allowed to have a Trapper Keeper. The 90s. A simpler time.) A lot of elementary school is a blur now, but I do remember the excitement of brand new school supplies. Roaming the bright and shiny aisles of Wal-Mart, official supply list in hand, I was free to decide what kind of person I wanted to be that year. I had a lot on my mind: When am I too old for kitten photo folders? Am I still a Tweety Bird person? Or is this more a Magic Eye kind of year?

Big decisions.

But when it came to my first Trapper Keeper, there was no contest y’all. (Ladies, I think you feel me…) It had to be Lisa Frank.

And this Trapper Keeper, you guys. It was everything a nerdy girl could want. Bright pink, happy kitties (of course), and ample space to store all my folders and doodles. Bellissimo.

I still feel like smiling when it’s school supply season in the land of retail. Few things in life hold the simple promise of a brand new 8-count box of Crayola markers…

Yesterday was the first day of school in Springfield. And tomorrow is move-in day at ol’ Drury U. My first day of college was 10 years ago. Let’s digest that for a second.

♥ The first of just so many roomie photos ♥

It was a muggy, rainy August day in Springfield — not unlike today. Perfectly imperfect for hauling boxes of belongings up two flights of stairs in already under-air-conditioned conditions. I had a lot on my mind: What happens if my computer gets wet? Will my hair withstand the humidity? Am I still a Spongebob person?

And I’m pretty sure I had no idea what I was doing. Just none. But at least my cluelessness was carefully organized. Orientation and freshman seminar classes and a campus full of peers all figuring themselves out, too. Sweet, sweet institutions of higher learning…move-in day to graduation, it’s clear where the whole thing is headed. (Even if it isn’t so clear where exactly you are headed…majoring in English and creative writing just because you want to follow your dreams, for example…)

Back to school. August-to-May. That’s how I measured my life for 17 years.

In adult life, beginnings and endings are rarely so clearly defined. And even when they are, nobody gives you a supply list for, say, ending a relationship or starting a new life plan. (But if they did, curiously some items would remain the same: kleenex, snacks, something to write with, and, of course, new shoes.)