“Don’t you love New York in the fall? It makes me wanna buy school supplies. I would send you a bouquet of newly sharpened pencils if I knew your name and address.” – Joe Fox, You’ve Got Mail
Is there anything more romantic than school supplies?
Don’t tell me that red roses are more passionate because they’re not. Any moron with the vaguest inclination that he wants to impress a girl can buy a bouquet of red roses at a convenience store and expect to be praised for it. It’s an easy gift. The only thing more obvious (and self-serving) is bringing a bottle of wine to a dinner party. I say that as someone who only brings wine to dinner parties--because I want to drink all of the wine.
Don’t tell me chocolates, either. Chocolates are to be eaten or else they’ll rot. That pretty heart-shaped box of caramels is going to be a trash heap of crumbled foil soon enough.
Diamonds do have a certain cultural clout, but someone could really love you and not be able to afford to give you one. Besides, there’s that whole, uh, blood diamond thing. Child labor really puts a damper on any romantic gesture.
Puppies are adorable, but they poop all over things. We know my opinion on cars.
No, school supplies are undoubtedly the most romantic present a person can give to you.
I mean, how can you not love school supplies?
I was never a massive fan of my elementary school (something about being teased by your classmates and teachers alike really puts a damper on the whole experience), but I adored shopping for new school supplies every year. Going to Staples and picking out a spiral notebook in every color of the rainbow was the highlight of my year. New notebooks meant new ideas and new ideas meant the potential for something amazing to happen. Forget about the year before. This new year–this fresh start–is the only thing that matters.
That’s what’s so romantic about school supplies. It’s the potential for something beautiful to occur in the future even though the past may have been not so great. It’s an innocent belief in the power to bounce back from a broken heart.
But if a boy gave me school supplies (or “stationary” as the fancy people call it) as a gift, it wouldn’t just be a metaphor for a fresh, glorious start, it would also be a practical gift.
I really like pens, you guys. I really like pens. As a writer, I constantly need pens and paper and notebooks to do work. Otherwise all of the madcap ideas I have in my mind could evaporate into the ether. I need to scratch them down upon paper before they scuttle away. A bouquet of freshly-sharpened pencils couldn’t sit in a vase for a year without the smell of graphite enticing you to pluck at least one out and use it to write something down.
School supplies and stationary are the tools of intellectual work. Receiving a ream of soft, unmarked loose-leaf college ruled paper is receiving the promise that you will use the paper to create something. Maybe you’ll write laboratory notes all over them or perhaps you’ll fold them into origami. Either way, you’re making something. You’re creating something from your mind and a person who respects and loves your mind is a person who respects and loves you.
The beautiful thing about school supplies is that you’re never too young or too old to enjoy them. You don’t need to receive them as a gift–you can give the power of a fresh start and respect for your imagination to yourself.
Buy yourself a package of scotch tape like Kathleen Kelly and smell the perfume of innocent adhesive love. Treat yourself to rubber erasers so you can blot out the mistakes you may have made this year. Purchase a journal with a warrior woman painted on the cover and use it to capture your innermost precious thoughts and feelings.
Charge into your local office supply store and treat yourself to some school supplies and then go home and swoon.
If you need me, I’ll be in my room sniffing the fresh pages of my brand new Decomposition Book.
Featured image: “Know-It-All” Pencil Set via Paper Pastries and my dreams