When my parents and I moved out of Steward Manor in the summer of 1987, I assume we turned in two sets of keys: my mom’s and my dad’s. I, on the other hand, didn’t relinquish mine.
It wasn’t that I ever intended to use them again, of course. (And surely Steward Manor would change the locks after we’d moved, anyway). But there was something about holding onto this set of keys that meant something to me, even back then as a 14-year-old kid. It means more to me today.
Part of my attachment is probably due in large part to the fact that it was my very first set of keys—my own keys, which meant that I had the power to come and go pretty much as I pleased. More accurately, it meant that I could now let myself back into the apartment without knocking.
Whenever I hold these keys today, I can vividly recall the feeling of turning the deadbolt lock, the doorknob lock, and opening our old mailbox at 100 Bryan Court. It’s amazing how palpable something like that is, and the memories that can come from something so simple as an obsolete old set of keys. They’re keys to the past, literally and figuratively.