Selecting school supplies at the Dollar Tree, my pulse races. Is it my predilection for flowery pencil designs? And 4” x 5 1/2” lined notebooks decorated with cactus flowers or flying pizza? Why do I study the colors of pocket folders as if buying a house?
I remember preparing for a new year of grade school. My best friend, Anne, and I walked to the Ben Franklin store together.
We selected supplies: pencils and pencil cases; crayons and paste; ink for our new fountain pens and later, cartridges. Our hard-sided notebooks and subject dividers came with an array of clear colored tabs so that history assignments would not be confused with geography.
We also chose the oilcloth with which to cover each precious textbook, handed down from class to class. (Why would texts be revised yearly, when Vasco da Gama and Ponce de Leon would forever anchor our history lessons?)
The oilcloths were patterned with puppies and kitties, lilacs, bold geometric designs, dainty teapots, pastoral scenes—hung in bolts like window shades, some so high that the clerk needed a ladder to reach them.
Standing there with Anne, looking up at the clerk, it seemed that anything was possible.
Why is it so stirring to stand in the Dollar Tree nearly sixty years later?
Once again, I feel that there’s another chance to begin.