Last month, with little fanfare, I retired a key object in my life.
Is it my car?
Nope. Still driving the same car since 2003.
Is it my computer?
Well… actually I did inherit my dad’s computer that he bought several years ago which did replace my Dell from 2008, but no, not this object. Something even more ancient.
The answer: it was my key chain pouch.
This pouch was made of a cheaper grade of leather and I forgot when and where I got this. My dad must have bought this for me back in the mid 1990s. Yes, the mid 1990s when Britany Spears was just getting popular and boy bands became the new pop phenom, when Bill Clinton was President and faced an impeachment proceeding because he lied about his relationships, and you needed a modem to connect to the Internet.
So what does this worn pouch mean to me and why did it take me 20 years to retire it?
- It taught me responsibility because I put my house keys on this chain. Lose it, and you can’t go home. I was in high school so it was the first step to adulthood. However, I was a latchkey kid and I already had keys to my place ever since I was 8 years old. So, yes, responsibility. In this era in 2018 when no one takes responsibility, when people rather delay adulthood, and people are so afraid of giving someone so young, this pouch is a reminder of my lesson in responsibility.
- It was a piece of home when I was so far away. It was a small reminder that
- I had the keys and the pouch when I left sunny southern California for windy Chicago.
- I had them when I went to Virginia Beach for law school.
- I had them when I was in China, in Cambodia, in India, in Germany and Poland, in the Philippines, and Australia and New Zealand.
- It was a piece of continuity. Years later when I bought my own place, I put my keys on the chain too. I have the keys to my new place and my old place (that is, my parents’ place). Past, present, and future.
I never thought I would have to replace it but when the other casing started cracking from years, now decades, of use, it was time. I mentioned it to my dad because it was highly likely he gave me the first one. Fortunately, he had a new one and gave that one to me too. In terms of price, it’s not a big deal because you can buy these a dime a dozen in Hong Kong’s famous “nue ren jie” or Ladies’ Street in English – an open air market that takes up two blocks.
The new one is a little larger. It does the same function: keeping my keys secure.
Why do I care about such a small item? Because of what it symbolized. As the Capital One commercial says: What’s in your wallet? Answer: a teaching tool, a piece of home, and a sentimental reminder