I remember in elementary school how I was always expected to keep the inside of my desk neat, and neat is exactly how I kept it.
On the left side of my desk I kept my textbooks and notebooks stacked on top of each other. Largest on the bottom, smallest on the top, with the entire stack pushed to the far back left corner of my desk.
The textbooks all contained my name written in the section that the borrower was required to fill in. My name would be filled in, always neat, always pristine.
On the right side of my desk would be my pencil box, usually a Spacemaker pencil box in whatever colours were my favourite at the time. I am not sure if they make them anymore, but I remember those boxes with the round, evenly spaced raised circles on the top. Inside this pencil box would contain everything that I needed for school: sharpened pencils, a pencil sharpener, an eraser (white was always my preference), and a wide array of Laurentian pencil crayons, each with my name written across the white band found on the center of each pencil crayon.
I remember one year my pencil crayons were stolen. I saw them later in class when a girl was using them. She had carved my name off of the back of each one of them, the white personalized band was now raw wood. On some of them I could still see the edges of some letters; a curve of a “C” on some edges, the end of a “y” on others, as if they were still acknowledging that they were mine.
The very front of my desk would hold the requisite thirty centimetre wooden ruler with my name written in black marker neatly on the back. I still have one of these rulers today in my current desk.
The names on the pencil crayons, in the textbooks, and the name on the ruler were all signifiers saying “this is me, these are mine” in extremely neat printing. Not just the items, but a signifier of who I am.
I have not changed much in all of this time. You would think that things would be much different now. Some things are; the old textbooks are long gone, so is the desk, even the pencil crayons. Yet, I noticed how similar my desk and its organization are today to that of my childhood.
The small wooden desk with the round hole cut out of the corner has been replaced with a beautiful and carefully selected white lacquered desk. The orange plastic chair is now a softly cushioned pink upholstered chair. Atop the desk is a white MacBook, just as shiny and white as the desk, and to each side is an antique clear glass lamp, both with white lamp shades. The contents of the desk have essentially remained the same. The center drawer of the desk contains neatly piled textbooks, notebooks, and folders, still to the left side of the inside of the desk. The right side of the desk has an organizer that is filled with pens, pencils, white erasers, and that same ruler from elementary school. The ruler looks essentially the same, just like my method of organization, just like me.
I always hear people talk about how a person can change, but I don't think that you can. People are who they are, no matter how different people wish they could be. We may grow older, get new desks, but we remain the same. You are who you are, even in something as mundane as the way that we organize our desks.
The Carley on the ruler from ten years ago is the same Carley today.
The same printing, the same me.