My keys have been on a pink paisley lanyard for the past few years. It’s bright, swings around my neck and for the most part, is easy to find. When people borrowed my keys at work I knew they’d not forget that it was mine. It was easy to spot on my desk, in my purse or hanging out of my pocket looking very urban (well as urban as one can be sporting pink paisley).
As we got closer and closer to our foreign service assignment in China the keys in my possession began to change.
First to go were four house keys of neighbors and friends. These were entrusted to me in case of an emergency, which usually meant a teenager had locked themselves out of the house when Mom and Dad were on vacation. Thank goodness that was the only “emergency” that occurred for years. Sometimes the keys were used to let pets out or mail in. Knowing we wouldn’t be in the neighborhood for the next three years was a signal to return them to their owners.
My lanyard, like yours, sported more than keys. Represented were “frequent user” tags for specific discounts and rewards that ran the gamut of a ‘free pastry with your latte’ to just tracking you shopped at their establishment that month. Punch cards are passé , it’s a key tab that stresses you “belong.”
These plastic key tags were taken off the key ring and shoved in a safe place. No need for tags that said “Panera Café,” “Kroger Plus Card,” “ Value Center Market,” “Blockbuster” or “Ace Hardware” in Nanjing, China. That game was over.
As my key ring dwindled, so did my presence in Livonia.
My 83-year old mother resides in an Alzheimer’s Assisted Living facility in Livonia. One of my keys had a label with both the interior and exterior code on it to remind me what to punch in when I visited. As staffing changed the five-digit numbers would too. These reminder labels placed one on top of another were beginning to mount after five years. Both codes would be worthless in China, as well.
Turning in my keys from work had a most unusual feeling, too. Off went a key fob that is assigned to a specific user & allowed me into the church/work, anytime, day or night. It also had the “power” to keep the door opened for a specific amount of time for committee meetings or weddings that I supervised. That was ONE powerful key fob! In addition there was an allen wrench used to keep the exterior doors accessible and open. Yep, I was a keeper of the keys and that was ending.
One by one the keys dwindled as did my importance, it seemed.
The house key was hung up awaiting our return.
Next to go was our lease car key. Ford won’t allow their employees to drive in China. Liability is the biggest issue, and safety concerns. So we will lease a car with a driver while we are there.
So now, dangling from the pink paisley lanyard were two lonesome keys. They hardly deserved a big honking lanyard anymore and sure looked silly.
I was struck by the two keys that remained. Key number one was a key to my parents house on Vassar. A small bungalow house they have occupied since 1952 on a tree-lined street across from a city park and walking path. My roots and a house that often is in my dreams still exists and I know every creaky door and where to find each light switch. How lucky was I to have just one consistent homestead from birth through young adult. Even more fortunate is that my 83-year old father resides there still. That key remains.
I am clueless about the last key. How important is it? Why don’t I know what it belongs to? It didn’t fit any door, padlock or vehicle. It’s not particularly old and still glistens when the sun hits it. Puzzled by it’s importance and presence I’ve decided to call it my Key to Tomorrow! I’ll “use” this Key to Tomorrow to unlock so much an entire world away. New experiences, new life challenges, new friends and who knows what else? It will be a universal key fitting many doors and represents a broad spectrum of global and self-discovery. How fitting to have this unknown key remain. My Key to Tomorrow will glisten when the sun hits it, and it will be the same sun that will rise and set over our home in Livonia, with all that “importance” left behind.
Next Entry: Nanjing Arrival!