- - -

A month before departing for college, I realized I would soon be entrusted with a pair of dorm room keys. My family had never used physical keys, always leaving the kitchen door unlocked behind a four-digit garage entry code, so having my own keys had a certain novelty appeal. I imagined bringing an insecure but breathtakingly handsome college boy back to my room and fumbling with the lock, whereupon he would comment on my intriguingly accessorized key ring and things would only go smoothly from there.

It was while imagining these possibilities that I spotted a key ring with a functional mini-flask at a boutique full of overpriced knickknacks. I thought it would nicely reflect the partying lifestyle I envisioned having in college, along with my budding sense of individuality. I bought it along with mason jar shot glasses. (I had apparently decided that my life trajectory was to become a Pinterest-drunk.)

I quickly learned that no serious drinker would ever be in a situation where a mini-flask would suffice. Also, I did not own a funnel. Undeterred, drunk friends would try to fill the flask with whatever we were drinking on a given night, which was often Fireball. One time I couldn’t find my keys for a week and individually blamed each friend who had tried to fill the flask, thinking one of them must have stolen it. Later, after I had already paid to have my locks replaced, I found the keys in a jumpsuit pocket.

Since moving out of the college dorms, I’ve constantly been on the move. Each place I’ve inhabited has been temporary; many have been illegal sublets. With each move, I gave up things that I deemed unnecessary or unwieldy. But this summer, after years of being too lazy to hunt for a home, I finally moved to a proper house, and now I’m allowing things to accumulate: art, candles, books.

Throughout all of this, I’ve kept the flask (although I still don’t own a funnel). It makes a good jingling sound, so I often shake my bag before leaving the house to make sure I’m not locking myself out. It also reminds me that I once thought that a shot of whiskey would be a good thing to carry around. As it turns out, my partying days are something else I left behind in the dorms — these days I usually fall asleep before 10.