Of all the mysteries in my life, the one I someday hope to solve is the mystery of my extra key. Like most people, I have a ring of keys, the keys to my own little kingdom. There's a key to my house, shiny and silver; a key to my sister's house, a bronze colored key that always sticks in the lock and takes all my strength to turn; two keys to my office, a square one for the door, another for the front gate, and my extra key. For the life of me, I don't know what it's for but I'm afraid to throw it out in case it's critically important, the one key I need for an emergency yet to be imagined.
I've wracked my brain trying to figure this out. Is it a key to my neighbor's house? No. Is it a key to my former neighbor's house? No. (Apparently I'm the go-to girl for spare keys to your house.) Is it a key to a suitcase, a safe deposit box, a jewelry box, a bicycle lock? A treasure chest, a magic closet, Pandora's Box? What is it for and why is it here? I don't remember putting it on the ring, let alone why it's there. Am I losing my memory, or even my mind? Is this how Alzheimer's starts?
I wonder how I can figure this out. Maybe a Facebook post to my circle of friends asking if anyone needs their key back? A lost & found ad on Craigslist? Maybe I could reverse-engineer the problem, try the key in every lock I find in all my usual haunts. I could undergo hypnosis and return to the time I acquired the key, maybe resolve some phobias along the way. Or I could do the unthinkable--take it off the ring and stick it in a drawer. (You thought I was going to say throw it out, didn't you?) No, I won't do that. I'm going to keep it on my key ring and imagine it's the key to my happy place, my refuge from the world, my cozy corner. There's a rocking chair there with a soft tattered quilt, a purring cat, and my favorite book, its pages dog-eared. It's always raining outside in a steady downpour that taps on the window as I stay snug and dry. Nobody has a key to this secret room except for me. And every time I see my extra key, I'll smile a secret smile and think about my secret room and what I'll do the next time I go there.