Three years ago, when I was 23, I packed up my life and moved from Small Town, USA, to San Francisco. With my new life came a new apartment, and with a new apartment came a new set of keys. I kept them on a plain silver ring for about a week.
Then I found myself walking one afternoon through a street fair, where I came across a particularly interesting display featuring hundreds of shellacked bottle caps, all with different logos, designs, and pictures glossed into them. I started looking through the buckets of options, and the woman working the booth told me that the caps could be made into necklaces, dog collars, or even key rings. That, I suddenly realized, was just what I needed.
I soon found a cap that had the familiar red and white Budweiser logo on one side and the important life lesson NEVER MAKE EYE CONTACT WHILE EATING A BANANA on the other. Noted, I thought to myself, as I completed the transaction and looped it onto my keys.
As it happens, I do like to eat bananas. But the cap’s message resonated with me for another reason. I’ve always been someone who doesn’t take life too seriously. When I was contemplating making the move to San Francisco, I sought advice from a friend who had recently made a big move himself. He told me that I would find myself in awkward, uncomfortable, and unfamiliar situations throughout my life, but as long as I stayed true to myself, things would work themselves out. The bottle cap reminds me to stay young at heart, and it makes me giggle to myself like I used to when I was growing up in Small Town, USA.
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.