Back-to-school aisles bring back memories

It's amazing what the smell of new pink erasers and No. 2 pencils can do for my outlook on life.

Back-to-school shopping is one of the things I miss most about being a kid. I'd start getting excited weeks before the first day of school, from the moment the stores moved their stock of notebooks and folders to the front aisles.

I'm one of those nerdy kids who really liked school. Summer was great and all, but by the end of June, I'd start missing all that required reading and those fun science projects. I'd spend July and August imagining how great the next year would be.

When the big school supply shopping day came, I could barely contain myself. I remember spending what seemed like hours trying to decide which patterns of notebooks I wanted, and which colors of folders. Was I going to go with newfangled gel pens this year, or stick with the reliable ball-points?

And even though I rarely used them, back-to-school shopping just wasn't the same if I didn't buy a bubble-gum pink eraser and a wooden ruler.

Equally as fun was my annual back-to-school clothes shopping trip with my grandma. I'd usually only pick out a few new shirts and a skirt, but it always felt like I had a whole new wardrobe.

Paired with a new backpack, filled with all those school supplies, I felt like a whole new person.

The first day of school always meant a fresh start.

My grades from the year before didn't matter. If I wanted to pick a new group to sit with in the cafeteria, I could.

Every year, I walked through the school doors that first day feeling like I could conquer the world.

In reality, nothing ever changed all that much. I never magically catapulted from being bookish to being one of the cool kids. But every year I got new teachers, new classmates and a new locker.

When you get to be an adult, there aren't as many chances to wipe the slate clean. It's also a lot easier to get stuck in a funk if you've been working in the same job for too long, cleaning the same house for years and years, and watching TV with the same person every night.

Sure, there's the first day on a new job, or the excitement of decorating a new home. But it's a sad realization that when you're an adult, first days of school no longer come like clockwork each August.

So this time of year, even though I spend my summer days in a cubicle, just like my winter days, I try to make a point to stop by Target's back-to-school section. I linger in the aisles, figuring out which notebooks I would buy if I were still in school, trying to conjure back up that feeling of hopefulness.

Sometimes I'll even buy some new markers or a pink eraser, just for old times' sake.

E-mail Lifestyle Editor Shelley Mann at shelley.mann@gwinnettdailypost.com.