About a month ago, my oldest daughter moved out of the house.
We loaded a bunch of her stuff into the truck and drove the four hours to her new home.
As we were getting ready to leave she asked if she should give me her house key.
I hadn’t even thought about this, so I said something like – I guess. Sure. We’ll be here whenever you come to visit so I guess you don’t need it.
Then, sounding a bit sad and hesitant to give up her key, she said she wanted to keep it.
It didn’t matter to me one way or the other. I hadn’t even thought about it until then. So, I told her to go ahead and keep it, that would be fine.
Later, I remembered our conversation and began to think about how sad she sounded at the idea of giving up her house key. Even though she would, of course, always be welcome here and we would make sure we were here or she could get in when she arrived, she wanted to keep her key. So, maybe it was something other than the logistics of having a key.
Then, I realized something.
21 years ago I moved out of my parents’ house. My childhood home where we moved when I was just 2 years old. Over the years, I would visit once a month. Sometimes more often. Sometimes less often. Sometimes, we would plan ahead and other times we would make last-minute plans. And so there were times that my parents were not home and I used my key. Or when we stayed a while, I would need a key so I could come and go without coordinating times with my parents.
A year ago, I moved halfway across the country. There would not be last-minute trips where we would be there in less than three hours. And our visits would be less frequent. So I don’t need a key on my key ring. … But, there it still is.
Even though we have only lived here a year, my daughter considers this her home. When she meets people in the city she lives in now, she tells them this is her hometown. Our little town that became home just one short year ago. She told me one time after she had moved out, that home seems to be wherever we are.
So, I wonder … does that key to our parents’ home serve as an anchor of sorts? One of many that we use to keep us grounded and centered in life?
I read somewhere, … a long time ago, so I don’t think I remember it as well as it was written, unfortunately, because it was very well worded and impactful … that once your parents pass away, you feel a bit like an orphan on this planet and you truly become an adult. It was something like that, I wish I could share it with you more accurately.
Anyway, I wonder if our keys serve as significant, tangible “anchors”.
I just wonder.
I might change my mind later.
Just something to chew on.