Passed notes, stolen cahiers, cute pencil cases… As I clean out my room, I encounter figments of my childhood, still intact, still legible, and with it the memories they hold.
We travel for adventure, to expose ourselves to cultures and people, sights and flavours. To travel is not just to leap forward to a destination and be part of something new and different; sometimes, all it takes is to go back in time, to reinvigorate moments and experiences that once were.
I moved to the townhouse I live in now with my family in the middle of fifth grade. Before that, I lived in a downtown apartment numbered 666, and then an apartment on 30 Burnhill Rd. in Scarborough. The class I was placed in was studying about Egypt at the time. Little did I know I would become lifelong friends with two boys who’d been in that same class.
From sixth to eighth grade, I moved from the “popular” friend group, to a cozy group of four girls. No more feeling left out because of the clothes I wore, and the weird peer pressures. We even had “pretend” identities of video game or animated characters we liked, and we’d use them on our secret notes that we frequently passed to each other during class.
Each year, and even up till the end of high school, I would hunt for cute but practical pencil cases. The last pencil case I ever bought was of two characters, Gaspard et Lisa.
One of my friends had a falling out with another friend, and so she had divided up her plush toy set amongst us four friends. I took the odd, smiling cat, just because it was small.
I was pretty good at arts and crafts. I still am, but I don’t do it often. My folder and snow globe art projects from eighth grade were inspired by anime and video games, if you can tell.
I don’t know if I got my mom and dad’s creative genes, but I took art with full force as a kid. I would even risk sneaking a print or two from school computers for art purposes, admiring the way my favourite animated characters were drawn and wishing I had the same skill.
Of all the homeroom classes in grade school, I enjoyed eighth grade with Mr. Daley. Near the end of the school year we were all given the opportunity to make a card/poster, which was passed around and everyone wrote a comment on.
“Best of luck”, “I’ll miss you”, “good luck in high school”. It was supposed to be like a yearbook.
This was my favourite corner of the yearbook. The comment from my teacher, because he believed in my abilities (and I was awarded a general proficiency award during our graduation ceremony).
And a comment from the boy I liked. I remember he took his time making his own box, but I guess we ran out of time so I got a very basic message, unrelated to farewells and high school. I would recall that he’d sometimes take some of my lunch, or I his, or we’d share the same seat, or he would just bother me for no reason. I’ve always wondered if it was one-sided.
I took my three friends to eight grade prom, where I wore a floor-length dress with an embarrassing shade of pink. A baby pink, with pink floral chopsticks in my hair.
Little did I know that I would fall out of friendship with these friends when high school came, growing apart physically, mentally, and emotionally. So much for that handmade Christmas letter. We had done Secret Santa between the four of us – for our first and last Christmas together.
Sometimes I think about discarding these items, more so the passed notes and the toy than the pencil case and the art. I remind myself I will, eventually. Perhaps when I move out.
For now, these items serve as a nostalgic reminder that brings me back to a time of budding creativity, with innocent friendships and loves. Invigorating feelings, thoughts, and experiences that were once new and different, encapsulated in these keepsakes.