Too Much

5th April 2011

When I got the key to my first San Francisco apartment, I did a keychain audit and realized all my other keys were defunct. I threw away the bike lock key for the bike that had been stolen, removed keys to the offices at my college newspaper, and did the same with about ten more, until I was left with only one. The key to my new front door.

Something about the symbolism of that that single key thrilled me. I felt the burden of all that ownership and responsibility lift off me. That solo key was the start of a new life in a new place, with all my options open.

I thought of that feeling this morning when I pulled my keys out of my clutch. It was like watching a clown car unload.

It may be time to reassess.

32 thoughts on “Too Much

  1. Heather

    um, I’m pretty sure my keys would make your keys look like a puny girly-man.
    My keys are KEYS! They carry old friends and new ones. They help my mind exercise by remembering which of the three that look alike is the one I actually need.

  2. Laura B.

    I have always thought that keys were the perfect metaphor to how much responsibility one has. I remember when I was first trusted with a house key when I was a kid. I felt so important! And then in college, it moved to two keys (one for the outer door and then one for the actual room). Then, true to life, after college the keys exploded. Apartment, car, office, mailbox, laptop lock, garage, etc, etc.

    When can I go back to being the kid with one house key? Well, only if that option also includes martinis.

  3. Megan G.

    This year I added a single word to my life list: less. It didn’t seem immediately actionable at first – in that I had no idea what I really meant by it – but I think maybe it’s along these lines, and getting rid of filler to make space for the essential.

  4. Megan G.

    God, my comment reads uncomfortably new-agey and earnest, but if you were to hear me speak it, it would sound very sage and wisdom-y with a hint of curiosity. Also, you’d see the lettuce in my teeth because I just ate lunch.

  5. robyn

    i am contemplating keeping my work keys on a separate key chain, and only pulling them out for when i’m at work. that way i don’t have to tote them around on the weekends …

    i love the idea of only having one or two keys {house, car} … someday!

  6. meg

    I had to move home this year for a number of reasons and I live in a place where my parents have never, ever locked the doors. At the same time, I started a new job where I just need a badge to enter each day. So, after ditching my old apartment keys and my old work keys, I was left with just my single car key on a keychain. It makes me feel incredibly light and free just having that one key. I know this won’t last, but I’m considering it a silver lining to the step backwards of moving home.

  7. Kat

    I have keys that I don’t need or use very often that are no longer kept on my keychain, but on a separate ring in a drawer by the door so I can grab them only if I’m going to need them. My apartment comes with around five keys all by itself. I don’t need more than that.

  8. Danielle

    I’ve been thinking about doing this for a while. I don’t even remember what some of the keys are for now. I am pretty sure one of them is for an apartment in another city where I lived in the late 90s.

    The sad thing is, I have all these useless keys but other than the front door key, I am not carrying some of the keys to the house where I actually live now, like a garage key…because I don’t have space on my keychain.

  9. Rebecca

    Dude, on my keychain I have my apartment keys, my car keys, keys to my parents’ house, my best friend’s house, my boyfriend’s house, and my studio. And, looking at them now, Laura B. is absolutely right about my keys being a metaphor for responsibility. Jeez.

  10. sean

    I try to limit it to the keys I need all the time. Car goes on a separate keychain, since I don’t drive everyday. Work keys can go on a separate key chain attached inside a pocket in my laptop bag, since when I’m headed into the office, I have my laptop bag. Mailbox key hangs near our front door. I find I don’t struggle to find keys, since I put them in the same place. I like the simplicity, but I did it mostly because I didn’t like to feel like I was carrying a 10 lb. weight in my pocket.

  11. Amanda

    Oh, man. I’m practically Schneider, I’ve got so many keys. Perhaps I should reassess, too.

  12. Kate

    ahhhh…the Hotel San Jose. In Austin, I assume (for SXSW)? Send that one to me – I’ve always wanted to try the place out, it looks so cool from the outside.

  13. Missives From Suburbia

    The last owners of our eighty-year-old home didn’t have any keys to the house, with the exception of one old-fashioned key that fits the back door. So we enter and exit through the garage, using the keypad. I only have one key everywhere I go, and it’s a car key. It’s very liberating.

  14. Sassafras Mama

    I’m a big fan of pared down keys: car key, key to my house, and a key to my best friend’s house, all on an antique silverware key ring which makes me smile every day.

    My work keys go on a separate key ring, also special to me.

    Maybe I just like key rings?

  15. Martha

    I always want to reduce the number of keys I have, but I feel like I really need them all. You know, just in case. I have one to the office, even though you can get in with a keypad at the back door. One to my parents house, one here, one there. I wish you luck in reassessing.

  16. Pretzel Thief

    I was given my first apartment key when I was all of six years old.

    That’s right, SIX.

    I had just started 1st grade back in the Former Yugoslavia and I needed to get into the apartment somehow, so I was ceremoniously (it was to me!) presented with a key on a string, which I proudly wore around my neck at all times, treating it as if it were a diamond necklace. DUH.

    Two weeks into starting 1st grade, war broke out. I still got to keep the key. (Score!) And we still walked to and from school during ceasefires, a gaggle of six-year-old classmates from the neighbourhood with a rainbow of backpacks.

    ‘Cause we were badass like that.

    (I came to Australia in July 1994, one year shy of the war ending.)

    Back in the old country, it was safe and completely normal for kids to walk to and from school at such a young age, to be unsupervised at home before or after school…amazing, huh? It was just how it was done back there…no one thought twice about it and there were never any problems; it worked beautifully. Plus, it made us kids feel all important and worldly and shit.

    OOH, also, for the parentals, the Yugoslav version of the 9-5 workday was 7am to 2:30pm. I KNOW, awesome much?

  17. Davinia

    Oh! I’m absolutely the same! The original key to my parents’ house was a huuuge, heavy key. They had the locks changed about 6 years ago and got a regular, small key. I no longer live there and yet I still carry this massive key around, along with the two keys to my own apartment, the one to my letterbox, my car key, the key to my drawer at work and the key to my parents’ letter box, as well as an Aristocats keychain and a Jack Skellington keychain.

    Madness, I tell you.

  18. Frumptastic

    I recently looked at my key chain and realized with the number of keys I have, I should carry them on one of those big hoops. It’s ridiculous. I have four for work, two for my house, two keys (well one is a fob), my parents’ house even though I haven’t lived there since 1999 amongst other keys of unknown origin. We are in the process of selling our house so we are going through all of our stuff. This is probably a good as time as any to go through my keys too!

  19. Sarahd

    I don’t know. For me keys can seem more like stretch marks. Annoying, yes, but also like metaphorical badges of honor.

  20. Joanne

    Only carry one key…. the car key. Everyone is amazed. House has always been (shhh… don’t tell anyone) unlocked… but we have a LARGE dog who will lick strangers to death if they are brave enough to get close.

  21. Sierra

    Love the Hotel San Jose tag on there…I’m in Austin right now visiting my sister and tried to stay there but it was all booked up :(

  22. Kate @ Savour Fare

    I have at least three keys on my keychain which are mysterious and unknown. While I am sometimes tempted to pare down to three — my house, my mother’s house, my car — I also like the little mystery they bring to my life, and the idea that some day I might encounter a lock, and I just might have the key.

    Plus, a bigger keychain is easier to find in a big purse.

  23. r8chel

    I’m such a minimalist that I don’t even carry a special decorative keychain — just four keys on a simple metal ring. And none of those awful store discount / membership cards!

  24. Lindsay Saint Clair

    In adjusting to my move to Chicago (read: still adjusting after 8 months) I just blogged about my keys and keychains through out life. I’ve always loved that bar game–what’s on your keychain–for finding out about a person’s life, and my lack of any connection with my Chicago set depresses me enormously. I miss my SF set, miss what it meant to be so connected. And at every big change in my life, I’ve found my keys need to make a major adjustment as well. I think now it’s time for me to do the opposite, I need to reclaim my new set and begin to put down roots here in Chi-town, no matter how much I’m hoping to move on soon.

    All this is to say, having a small keychain has always felt empty to me, so enjoy your enormous, fabulous life–I’m looking forward to a time when mine is once again full.

  25. Cindy

    Oh, that’s nothing. I have keys to yoga studios, my mom’s house, my mother-in-law’s house (three keys for one door!), scooter key, house keys, and a house key to house we lived in three years ago. Luckily I’ve lost my car key. Yeah…lost the car key. And when I left the old job, they took back about six keys.

  26. Beth K.

    A friend once told me she believes that the number of keys on your keychain is directly proportional to the amount of stress in your life. I often think of that when I glance at my keychain. I’m currently carrying 7 keys.

    Two weeks from today I’ll have sold my house, my car and left my job to move with my fiance to Brooklyn. I’ll trade in these 7 keys for 2 to our new apartment and our new life. So liberating and exciting!

  27. Jenne

    I’m thinking of all those sad people at your college newspaper, peering wistfully in through the windows…

  28. Leah

    My favorite time, keys wise, was when I lived where I worked (at an environmental education camp). We didn’t lock the house because the downstairs was our office, and we were in and out all the time. My room didn’t lock — it had a folding accordion thing for a door. And my boyfriend was living back home with all our stuff, so I didn’t need a key for back home.

    The only key on my ring was my car key. And I only used that once a week as it was.

    I like life without keys :-) I teach at a college right now, and I love summer because I get to unload all my keys from my ring. I actually keep my keys on a carabiner so that I only have to carry around the exact keys I need at any given time. So freeing :-)

  29. Mandi

    This reminded me of the opening day of my coffee house, a dream come true for me. I didn’t realize how much a little key could mean until three yrs. later when I closed the door for the last time & had to leave my key behind.. wow, they are powerful things.

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