The smell of school supplies intoxicates me.
Not the old school supplies I find at the bottom of my kids’ backpacks in June. Those are just sad-looking pencils with their eraser heads worn down to gummy shadows of their former selves, old dried-up glue sticks, and crayons that are pitifully short and stubby.
August school supplies are the ones I like. Fresh notebooks, folders with all four corners intact. Glue sticks banded together in shrink wrap, ready for sticky battle.
This year, school supply shopping for my two high school-age teenagers was pretty low-key. The mile-long school supply lists of elementary school days are a thing of the past. The kids are living in a digital world—and a nearly paperless world. Their Chromebooks have replaced the Trapper Keeper from my youth in the ‘80s. (I had one with a striped kitten on the cover, and the velcro closure gave a satisfying riiiiiip when I opened it to file away my beloved xeroxed copies of sentence diagram worksheets—thanks for asking.)
After the second day of high school this week, my daughter casually mentioned that she needed a handful of notebooks. My son requested a binder. I grabbed my purse and sprang into action.
School supplies stir something inside me. Even though my school days are long behind me, the muscle memory kicks in: as soon as late August hits, the sunlight slants differently; the air feels heavy with anticipation. It becomes imperative to buy armloads of notebooks and pens. The urge cannot be ignored.
First things first: I toss into my cart some notebooks for my daughter. A binder for my son. Now, it’s my turn. Some of the shelves are picked over, as if a pack of hungry wolves feasted on the loose leaf. I run my hands along the colorful boxes of markers, and consider buying a brightly colored lunch tote before regretfully placing it back on the shelf.
Forget Jan. 1st. The first day of school is New Year’s Day. Everything begins again. It’s all about the tangy scent of a freshly sharpened Ticonderoga pencil poised over a blank page. It’s the time of year to gather your supplies, speak your goals out loud, then write them down. It’s time to claim the year by scrawling your name across it in thick block letters. Set your agenda. Make it your own.
Originally published Aug. 23, 2021 on My Huntley News