Sweet Grand Boy isn’t the only person curious about the key I sometimes wear around my neck.

“What does it mean?” asked the tiny old lady in bright red lipstick as we both reached for the avocados in the produce aisle.

“What does it mean?”

“Your key,” she said, pointing to my chest. “It’s pretty. What does it mean?”

“Oh nothing,” I said with an awkward laugh, not used to having strangers ask me existential questions amongst the vegetables. “I just like old keys, that’s all.”

But as I pushed my cart over to the Brussels sprouts, I fingered my key and asked my own self the question. What does it mean?

By the time I made it to frozen foods, I had wondered if I wear the key to remind my introverted self to not stay fastened shut against the world, against the people I bump against in the grocery store, at the post office, in my work. Maybe I wear the key to feel it knock against my chest and say, “Open up! See the hilarious and gorgeous and wrinkled and satin-skinned living breathing people around you and the bare branches and the dead leaves and the dog poop and the purple skies. Look for beauty and pain and laughter. Listen for God speaking through it.”

Maybe that’s why I wear it.

Or maybe I wear it to remind myself to not stay behind the locked door. To open up my brain and heart to the world and set my feelings and thoughts and ideas free to roam around, where you can see them and hear them and share your own. Where our thoughts can have a play date together and chase each other around and mix like paint and create something beautiful- or end up in the dustbin. That’s okay too.

Maybe that’s why I wear it.

Or it could be that I wear it to remember the latchkey cool kids from grade school who wore power on yarn that swung around their necks. Maybe I wear it so that the girl who lives inside of me can say I’M IN CHARGE OF MY OWN HOUSE NOW, my own self, so there! And even if the world sure seems dark when I look at it, all grimed up with greed and cruelty, even if our leaders are vulgar and show no respect for people God created and the earth God made, I AM IN CHARGE OF MY OWN HOUSE NOW. I will do my best to make it a place that God might not be so terribly appalled at, even though it’s not likely that I’m any better at it than anyone else and grime it up enough on my own, given my selfishness and impatience and limited vision. But I will try.

Maybe that’s why I wear it.

Or maybe I just like old keys, that’s all.