Around my neck I carry the keys to the world.

Antique keys that I seek out whenever I’m in another city that speaks to my soul. Old and rusty, strange and curious shapes, from eras and possibly buildings, belonging to people, that are long gone.

An intricate and ornate, swirling, gold plated key from the sprawling and labyrinth like Marché aux Puces de St-Ouen in Paris, fit for a mistress of Napoleon.

A slender and minimalist one with Bauhaus like, rectangular,  grid design from Berlin, from a surly stall holder, on the coldest and greyest of days.

A skeleton key for Brooklyn, bought on the banks of the East River, the Empire State building glittering across the water on a clear, bright, Autumnal Sunday.

A stout and rusty brass key from a glass cabinet, buried in the depths of New Orleans French Quarter.

And the smallest key of them all, rounded and gold, with Northeast engraved on it in cursive font, from a Christchurch building that did not see out the day on 22 February, a building that I will carry with me for my entire life. Now a part of our own history.

I like to imagine what kind of building each key opened. An apartment building, a bakery, a factory, a bank safe, a storage unit full of a thousand secrets.

I like to imagine who lived there, or occupied it. Who held that key? Where did it go with them? For How long? And how did it end? What life events and circumstances happened to make it end up on a table at a flea market, in my hands and around my neck, on the other side of the world.

And I wonder what will happen to these keys when I die. Will they end up in someone else hands? Will they look at them think they correlate to the buildings in my life story? Will they realise the journey and stories of hundreds of years, and hundreds of people before me, that I never met, that they represent? Or will they just go in the bin.

When I wear them, I jangle.
It’s a reminder of how big the world is.
How many came before me.
And how many more keys there are left to collect.


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