Kaitlyn Andrews-Rice, Editor-in-Chief
The summer before freshman year of high school I desperately wanted a particular pair of Skechers. A cross between a combat boot and a hiking boot with lug soles and thick black laces, I was convinced these boots were the most essential fashion of my 1997 life. I had no need for combat boots or hiking-appropriate footwear. My Skechers were purely a want. An all-consuming. materialistic want.
Each year my parents set aside a small back-to-school shopping fund of which I had full discretion. If I wanted to blow the entire thing on a pair of Skechers, fine with them. Spending the entire fund in one swoop simply meant I couldn't buy anything else. No chokers, no itchy Abercrombie & Fitch sweaters, permantely infused with the woodsy smell of colgone. This was no problem. I figured I could go naked to school if I had the right boots. But if I didn't have the boots, no one would notice me, and I wouldn't be invited to the important parties or the best sleepovers. Without the boots I was was sure to be relegated to obscurity. Forever.
Back-to-school can be the best of times or the worst of times. So many hopes and dreams get wrapped up into thost few hazy weeks between August 1st and Labor Day. As a teenager I lived for those in-betweens, the dog days of summer where you're imgainging how your life might be, how cool and popular your overpriced fashion boots will make you, how you truly, truly believe that one pair of boots will change the trajectory of your life.
Obviously I bought the boots. I caressed the box and tucked the boots into their tissue paper bed every night until it was time to rock.
You probably know where this is going. A pair of boots did not change my life because every other girl had the same boots and most of them were going out for the soccer team or the track team or the lacrosse team. I was not. I was going out for drama club.
This was the cold truth of back-to-school. No boot, no hairstyle, no cropped baby t-shirt could change who you really are. Writers know this better than anyone. Isn't that why we write? To daydream about what could be, what might be? After all, great storytelling often comes from that one step beyond reality, the one where you buy a pair of coveted boots and your entire life changes, for better or worse.
We're dubbing this month our unofficial back-to-school issue. With work from Mark Galarrita, Natanya Ann Pulley, W. Todd Kaneko, and Keene Short, plus an interview by Amy Alexander with Kristin Garth, Elisabeth Horan, and Jessie Lynn McMains, we're thinking about those in-betweens, the moments of possibility before reality hits. As Mark Gallarita writes in "My Sad Werewolf": "That happens sometimes, like when I walk into the city and I see folks I went to middle school with suddenly dressed in grown-up suits; I wave, but they don’t wave back. "