Thursday, August 23, 2012

It is back to school time.

We scuttle around, not in the most effective way, yet again beginning our shopping with me in the dressing room with the girls, “…but then what DO you need?” before turning around, coming home, and beginning again, this time, by first sorting through all their clothes, handing items down to the next, and seeing what our starting point is. 

“We have been here before – I remember that tree.”

Those years of youthful preparation for my own back-to-school have marked me. This year, as every year, I find something visceral in me full of hope and possibility. These new lunchboxes will lead to healthful, organized lunches for all of us, this new system we’ve come up with will mean that we never get behind on laundry, we will all be fresh and shiny, popular and smart, homework will always be done promptly and well …

The fantasy may not survive the first week, but shhh, don’t disturb my illusion.

I remember in high school, getting the big thick September issue of Seventeen magazine and devouring its tips. Jean Naté sponsored a 4 page spread where you saw the heroine go step by step through her organized, popular, always-smiling day. Her day began, of course, with a shower and a splash of the sponsor’s product. Aha, that was the key to it all. Along with pencils, pens, and a Trapper Keeper, I used my own money for a small bottle of bath splash.

Perhaps this should turn into a screed against consumerism or not accepting ourselves as we are, the folly of thinking that a new year or a new product will lead to a life change.

But it’s not. Not today. Because we all need Dumbo’s feather sometime. Hope can be hard to find, and if any of us can get a extra boost by the seasonal change, then grab on.

For the first time in a very long time, I am not going back to school myself, not in the literal sense. Last year, I was preparing for my last semester of seminary. When browsing school supplies the other day, I started to automatically pick up some highlighters and fresh pens for myself. No need.

Okay, little bit of a need. I continue on with one ministerial job, and begin another. I have that little matter of meeting with some people in Boston that I need to keep studying for. We are all perpetual students, in some way or another.

If you catch a whiff of Jean Naté when we meet, don’t be surprised. 

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