The rumors are true: by the materialistic powers that be, Target is a Siren and I, a thrashing Odysseus.*
Aisles that hold no solution for the purpose of my visit demand my cart deviate from route anyways. I come home with items paid for by hands holding no recollection of its shelf-to-basket journey. And while all my Target* trips are approached with the similar, serious precautionary measures sleepwalkers take at bedtime, only two of its aisles render me (completely) powerless:
First, the travel-sized toiletries.
I shrink my hands and voice to match dwarfen loofahs, mini tubes of toothpaste and TSA-approved bottles of shampoo (eeeeeek!), not unlike a grown man ogling over the matching baby-rendition of his Nike sneakers.
The second: The back-to-school supply aisle.
Or aisles. A village of supplies, really.
August 1 and the corner chunk of Target is transformed by the lunchboxed faces of the of-the-moment fandoms lining the perimeter. Inside, supply lists paper mâché the floors as school-resistant kids drunkenly man the carts, an intoxicating high no doubt boosted by the bin-by-bin gushing of Elmers glue sticks.
Backpack options fall like manna: Rolling? One-strapped? Expandable? Recycled material? Reflective? Functionally-futile, but fashionable?
This place becomes the Mecca for summer-weary mothers counting down to the First Day, while kids only see their exterminated freedom manifesting itself in a throne of wide-ruled notebook paper.
Not that leaving Target makes the impending school year less detectable, you simply leave drenched in a reminder of it — clothing to pores fuming pencil shavings, waxy Crayolas and fruit-scented erasers.
This is my scholastic Candyland, an outpouring don’t you dare minimize as nostalgic appreciation. K-12 and college included, I approached school shopping like an NFL recruiter. With the future of my educated franchise in mind, I intensely assessed the drafted tools hoping to make the backpack cut.
Twenty pen species would be clicked before landing on the set with the most-reliable ink yield and least-audibly-aggravating *click*. Mechanical pencils were test-scribbled to nubs, measuring lead output and grip comfort. I lost sleep over the selection of a planner, (Day vs. month?! Month vs. week?! Hour-by-hour vs. year?!) before appointing the one that would result in a school year most efficient.
…And to think, some kids trusted their mothers to just PICK for them. HA!
I cling to these aisles now because with post-grad adulthood came awareness: fresh starts are not naturally offered.
Calendared reboots, like Mondays and the New Year (though a fan of both), often carry in past consequences and the pressure to perform better than the last. The unmarked restarts of our choosing, are often first prompted by loss or trauma, branding renewal less of a choice, more a solitary answer to survival.
Not like the K-12 mid-annual restoration: a seasonal anomaly of possibility.
It’s been five years since I’ve set foot in a classroom, organized the desk innards of the one I lay claim to on the front row(#teacherspetsignature). And still, I’ll never outgrow the magic in an aisle surrounded by number two pencils and scantrons.
Which is why you’ll still find me, a 27-year-old academic has-been evangelizing doomsday for the gel pen and the superiority of a. Pilot V Razor Point, Extra Fine Point Felt Pen.
Speaking of school, here’s a calculator to end all calculators (and your social media expenditure with it…)