My keys are unwieldy. They are heavy, and messy, and disorganized.
They take up too much room in my bag, they poke me in the side as I walk, and they really hurt when I drop them on my foot (it happens more than you would think). It makes sense, when you think about it, that my keys are like that, because there are just so darn many of them. Eleven, to be precise. You may be wondering now, “What in Pete’s name do you need eleven keys for?” And I’ll tell you:
In my bag, every day, are keys to my home, keys to my sister’s home, and keys to my parents’ home, yoked to one another, ring upon unwieldy ring.
Behind each door they unlock are the people I love–P. and The Cat at our house, my big sister, her husband and their two kids, Wren and Ilan, across the street, and my mom, dad, a little sister up the block. This is no accident, the proximity of our homes–it allows for an immediacy in our relationships. Much as we have extremely complicated family dynamics (I know, I know, who doesn’t) and had less-than-idyllic childhoods, we are a close lot. I’ve often thought about the fact of our closeness, how wedded we all are to Brooklyn, to family, to maintaining bonds that make it feel like our children will be each others’ siblings, too. My sisters and I have often spoke of this: how shocking it is to realize that our children won’t, in fact, be sisters and brothers to one another, but cousins.
“Why are we so attached to one another?,” I think. So much so that the thought of moving away, the thought of not seeing my family every day–of losing the option to–sends panic radiating through my body. Is it the keys that are to blame?
P. and I talk often about the farm we’re going to have, of our future family, of treehouses and animals wandering in through the screen door, of eggs warm from a hen’s behind, of a creek running through the land. But when I think about my keys–the sparse ring I will have, the one, perhaps two solitary keys dangling straight down, without impediment, and the superfluousness of having the keys to my parents’ and sister’s homes hanging there, too–my heart aches a bit. It’s selfish, I know, to want my keyring full, when I don’t even acknowledge P.’s keyring with its single key to our home. “So, what, then?,” I ask. Is this what they call growing up? Not having to carry around the keys to your parents’ house anymore? Maybe that’s why I’m so afraid of it then. Because I love my keyring full; I love walking to my parents’ home every day this summer, opening the door, swimming, watching TV, having the company of the people I love; love being able to “let myself in.” And it’s not just the pool, or the cable TV, or the dinner that I love, though those are awesome, don’t get me wrong. It’s the people, and the safety, and the effortlessness of it. It’s that finding places where you can really just be, just utterly be, is nearly impossible. I am afraid of what I will miss when my keys thin.
What will it be like when the lanyard my little sister made me in 4th grade doesn’t have as much to hold onto anymore? Will it feel despondent, depressed? Will it unravel itself so that all that is left is a pile of kinked plastic?
I wanted to write about my keys as a sort of homage to my family, an “Oh isn’t it just so great that I have so many keys to so many homes to so much love. Oh isn’t love just the best isn’t family just the best oh it’s just the best!” but my mind has a mind of its own, and now all I can think of is life without them.
Now comes the part where I tell myself: “Saadia, relax. There’s time to figure that out. Maybe just not today.”
And with that, I’m going to my parents’. (My sister and her kids are already there).