What I Learned From My Key Ring

The best way to tell if someone is a grown up is to check their key ring. Some people never get tall, never grow breasts, never have their voices drop in pitch. But key rings don’t lie. Let me explain.

When you were a kid, you had one or two keys. Home key and maybe bike lock key. You turned sixteen and added a car key. You turned eighteen and added a key to the dorm room and maybe your work-study job. Later you got an apartment key, mailbox key, a storage room key, laundry room key, office and office building keys. Then second car key, key to your safety deposit box at the bank . . . . You get the idea. Each key represents a responsibility. Get enough of them and you’re an adult.

I understood this concept from a young age. Sometime around the age of seven, I dragged my father to the hardware store and acquired a handful of miscut keys. I strung them on a key ring with a rubber heart-shaped bobble and carried them everywhere I went. By my logic, I was officially grown up.

As an actual grown up, I did acquire a hefty ring of real keys. They couldn’t be stuck in a pocket without looking, as some put it, “happy to see me.” But oh how things have changed. Since I quit my job and no longer carry keys to offices and cars, I find myself left with one key. One! The one to my apartment. No more bulge in my pocket, and you might say, no more responsibilities. I’m a kid again! And this time I like it that way.

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