I bought a new keychain today. It’s not a particularly notable keychain. It’s got some pink sparkly shoe charms (imagine that), a lever detach, and it was $5 at Walmart. But my old one broke, and when my keys break, my life falls into disarray. So it’s been on my to-do list for almost a month now.
What a weird way to start a blog post. I’ve been thinking a lot about how to explain my hiatus. Ideally, I’d tell you about my glowing adventures hiking Kilimanjaro, or paddling the backwaters of the Amazon. But I haven’t written in two months, and all I can open with is “I bought a keychain.” Maybe now you’ll forgive me for my leave for absence, knowing that everything else I’ve written in the past two months has been shot down by my [volunteer] editors, sometimes kindly (“You might want to try a different angle on this…”) and sometimes not (“Don’t write this.”).
Think back to your first set of keys. The weight that keychain carried in your hands. Your first key to the front door. Your first car keys. You had responsibility. You had places to go. Keys were about freedom, about unlocking doors that had never been yours to unlock before.
As we get older, keys become just as much about locking people out. About hiding parts of ourselves behind closed and locked doors. About compartmentalizing our lives into buckets - house keys, office keys, car keys - insulating each piece of ourselves with a different circle, not letting the pieces intertwine.
These days, my keys remind me that I have places to come back to. For all the wanderlust that permeates my life (the past 8 weeks have taken me to Tahoe, New Orleans, and Beaver Creek), there is something real about coming home. Something grounding.
A reminder of a place where I belong.
I don’t often need anything but my single car key, but I don’t go anywhere without a full set. I like my keychains heavy, because there is a certain gravitas in the idea of home. They’re my totem. Everything I need, every part of me, on one ring. When the keys fall apart, so do the pieces of my life.
My new keychain has two house keys, an office key, and a car key. Three small charms, barely there - a cowboy boot, a pink sparkly heel, and a miniature replica of the Tour Eiffel. Four cards - the dance studio, the yoga studio, the climbing studio, and the ubiquitous Kroger Plus. My life, in the palm of a hand. An intimate connection to the things that I do. To the person that I am. Finally connected again.