January 28, 2006

Old Cars, Urban Keys and Intentional Choices

I've been thinking about my keys lately. Get this. A month ago I owned three cars, each having their own key. 1989 Accord. 1990 Civic. 1985 Cabriolet. Thhrrreeee cars. The thing is, I got sick to my stomach when I owned two cars. The truth is, the multi-car insurance does nothing for me. Neither does finding a parking space when you don't have one. And paying $2.65 for gas doesn't light my fire either. Then, only a few weeks ago, I owned zero cars. Suffice to say, my keychain felt lighter. And it was at this point that I really started thinking about my keys. The more I thought about them, the more they made sense of my life in LA.

The small one (the one that looks like it was taken from the Chronicles of Narnia set) is my mailbox key. Here's the thing: I've never had a mailbox key. The only time you need a mailbox key is when there's potential for theft. And apparently, there's theft possibilities in apartment buildings. I'm not exactly sure why though. I guess it's more tempting to steal mail when the mailbox is an inch away rather than a yard over. But, believe it or not, we chose to live in the dangerous theft-potential apartments. :) I should tell you the middle bronze key fits in here nicely too. Our 270 square feet (minus bed, couch, bikes, desk, chairs and you're left with around 200 sq. feet) only requires one key. The key leads to the apartment. The apartment leads to the city. And this is exactly where we belong.

The small black key fits nicely into a lock that I bought for my bike (another dangerous thing about urban dwelling is needing a lock for your bike). I spend a handful of minutes every week on my Trek 800 bike. Last week I added 13.2 miles to the wear on the tires. This week I'll top out around 20 miles. I can go everywhere -- friends, grocery, work, restaurant, bar, bank, theatres, and the casual thrift store. I can't imagine life without a bike. Actually, I can't imagine having to get in the car to go do everything. That's why I'm proud of my little black key. It represents the city, exercise and savings at the pump.

Finally, you'll notice a rather large key in the background. It's in the back because I like to think it's the least used key. It powers on our Volkswagon Golf, which we purchased a few weeks ago to use for Kari's shrinking commute. It's the first car I've owned with less than 100,000 miles. I'm not sure this key fits as nicely into my key metaphor, but I thought you'd like to know that we're back to one car again.

Cheers to your keys, my keys and to the janitor who's ability to memorize his keys is staggering.


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