The Key Graveyard

In a fall cleaning frenzy, I tackled my kitchen junk drawer. I chucked expired coupons, dozens of plastic bread ties that I’d saved in case of a severe bread-tie shortage, and handfuls of dried out rubber bands that broke when stretched. Then I ran across a box of old keys.

Hmmm? I lined them up on the kitchen counter. There were nine car keys, which was odd, because in my life, I’d only owned four cars.

I found the spare key to my 1968 Ford Falcon. Three on the tree, pull-out choke on the dash. I bought it used for $200, drove it for three years, and sold it for $250. I couldn’t find the spare key for the new owner, so I’d had a copy made. It cost 35 cents. Today a new key is $200—the same price as this entire car.

I found the key to my first new car. A 1976 Toyota Corolla, which ironically, got keyed the first day I parked it at work. It was Rah! Rah! Bicentennial! Buy American year!

Here was the key to my old boyfriend’s house. We broke up two decades ago when I ‘d found another woman’s underwear tangled in the bed sheets. “Oh, those belong to my fiancée,” he’d said, having never mentioned a fiancée before. It made me wonder if saving this key qualified me as a masochist.

One key was to the Master Lock for my gym locker. I’d purchased a lifetime membership and went faithfully for 6 months, until the gym went BK and disappeared over night. I’d thrown the Master lock at their front window but, ironically, I wasn’t strong enough to break the glass. Probably had to work-out a year for that.

I found a key to a diary. Which was really strange because I never kept a diary.

Here was the key to my neighbor’s house, given to me so I could feed their dogs while they went on vacation. The dogs have long since crossed the Rainbow Bridge and the neighbors moved five years ago.

I found the key to the little brass lock that I used to put on my suitcase before Homeland Security banned privacy because it made it too difficult to steal out of luggage.

Oh, and look, the long lost key to my first and favorite apartment, the one that threw me out when they found my illegal cat. I had to pay a fee because I couldn’t find the spare key. This key.

Here was the key to the Dawson Dumps, the nasty Long Beach apartment where I had to move after the illegal cat incident. There I saw my first roach. But what could you expect from a two-bedroom apartment that rented for $135 a month? Utilities included.

I wondered what keeping these keys said about me, and all I could come up with is that I’m stuck in the past. Not a good place to be. So I threw away every single key, because as we all know—or should know—old keys will never open new doors.