Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Key challenges

When you spend a significant period of your childhood living in one country, and then move to another country, some habits you took for granted may come back to you much later after you return to the first country for a visit.

I was reminded of such a habit today while I was frantically looking for my keys.

When I was a teenager and young adult, I returned to Switzerland on a couple of occasions to visit with my grandmother and other family and friends. One thing that prominently stuck to my mind was how my grandmother leaves her house key in the keyhole on the inside of her apartment.

There was no key chain or numerous keys dangling from the door. It was just the solitary key stuck in the door.

It was something that must have been a normal occurance while I was growing up in Switzerland, but having returned there from Canada, I recall remarking to her how perplexing it is to see a key in the door like that. I'm used to seeing keys on hooks. My grandmother was surprised and stated that it was the only normal place for the house key. That way, she always has access to it and never has to look for it.


Ok. That makes sense to me. But living in Canada where it is unheard of to not own a car (well, not unheard of exactly, but most people I know own at least one vehicle), I have yet to come across a person who owns only one key. Most of us carry key chains around with us akin to Sing Sing prison guards or something. My key chain includes three house keys for my house alone (front, back and side), not to mention my parents' three house keys, two sets of car keys with separate trunk keys, the push-button-thingy that opens the Honda automatically, and who knows what else.

I did find my keys. They were stuck in the keyhole on the outside of the backdoor leading to the fenced-in yard. They were out there all night.


Actually, this isn't so unusual, come to think of it. I find myself leaving my keys stuck in doors more often than not, as Andrej has remarked. Sometimes even in the front door, on the outside!

But this happens because I rarely enter or leave the house without anything other than my keys and a purse. Usually I lug diaper bags, library books, groceries, dog leashes, and a squirmy toddler in or out of the house. I figure once the key is in the door, I at least won't misplace it (along with all the other ones on the chain) and can rescue it after I deal with the groceries, dog and toddler. But inevitably, something always manages to distract me, and I forget about the keys until I need to go someplace, and start looking for them. Or until Andrej comes home and makes a remark.

My grandmother is almost 90. I doubt she's ever lost her house key.

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