Every year, I make myself wait until August to buy my planner for the upcoming school year. This is partially because the planners don’t actually include dates before August of the current year, and partially in order to fend off back to school stress dreams (less successfully than I might hope).
I love the cleanness of a new planner, the neatness of its blank pages, the promise that this year I will be more tidy, more organized, more prepared. Conversely, I also love the well-worn beauty of last year’s planner, filled with scrawls and margin notes and satisfactory crossed-out items. Some people keep their journals or diaries from past years, and I do that too. But I also keep all my planners.
Rereading them reminds me of stressful weeks where I nevertheless came out on top, triumphant presentations, get-togethers with friends, etc. They make me nostalgic for the school years past.
Once, while we were moving, I found my mother’s planners from her high school days. I loved poring over her slanting cursive, puzzling out what her personal shorthand meant, wondering which assignments had stressed her out the most. As I cram each year’s planner on my shelf, I can picture my own kids finding them someday and wondering about my life in high school and college.
Yes, there is a certain amount of nerdiness to this pleasure in buying a new planner. But I have always been one of those kids who couldn’t wait for the leaves to turn and the pristine notebooks and fresh crayons to fill my mother’s shopping cart. We used to plan those back to school shopping trips for weeks in advance, highlighting and quantifying every last thing on the school-supplied lists and jotting in our own requests at the bottom. Because my sister, “Bird,” and I often had the same items on our lists, half the pleasure lay in dumping the purchased supplies out on the living room floor and divvying them up. A box of markers for Bird, a box of markers for me. Three newly sharpened pencils in Bird’s pencil box, three for me.
Now that I’m in college, my yearly planner is all that’s left of the clean, crisp school supplies that marked the end of my summers. Maybe it’s a little strange to be so excited about an organizational tool. But if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go color code all the events for August in my pretty, shiny, new toy.