It was Christmas. He was older. Organized. His tree had lots of presents underneath, and while he was in the shower I went through them, like a child, even though I was 21.
I’m good at deducing what’s underneath wrapping paper. I fingered what was definitely a book, another parcel that was probably lingerie, and then flushed with joy when I put my hands around what was almost certainly a jewelry box.
Two weeks later, I opened my presents, saving the most exciting one for last. I smiled at the book, smirked at the lingerie and, with my heart in my mouth, opened the box — which turned out to be not a necklace or earrings, but a key ring. Hanging from it was a Scrabble tile with the letter R.
R is worth only one point in Scrabble.
“Because you always lose your keys!” he said. I smiled big and told him I loved it.
I already had a beautiful blue leather key ring. I took my keys off it, splitting my thumbnail in the process, and moved them all over to the Scrabble ring. It soon developed a special ability to work itself into the most inaccessible crevice of my handbag, hiding from me when I needed to unlock my door because I was drunk or needed to pee.
Seven years later, married to someone else, I paused while unlocking the door to the first apartment I’d ever owned and remembered that I hated the thing.
I threw it away and replaced it with a ridiculous string of pom-poms, which I can always find.
Key Ring Chronicles is a crowd-sourced project that explores the stories behind objects that people keep on their key rings. It was created and is overseen by Paul Lukas, who has kept a quarter with a hole drilled through it on his own key ring since 1987. Readers are encouraged to participate by sending photos and descriptions here.