I look at this gold-coloured house key with cautious anticipation. It may be a small bit of metal with sharp grooves and notches, but it packs an emotional wallop! Will it be the last house key I have on my chain or is it just another one in a collection of many I’ve had over the years?
According to Dr. Brené Brown, the single emotion people are most afraid of is joy. Seriously. We are collectively conditioned to wait for the other shoe to drop, so we never fully appreciate the moments of joy when they are right in front of us. We anticipate with more surety the promise of disaster or, at the very least, failure. Joy is terrifying.
I don’t want to be afraid of my joy and this house key represents my opportunity to overcome my history, my fear and lean into and fully embrace gratitude. Only then will I fully understand joy.
The journey to this one key is found in all of the keys before it:
The house to which I was born in Saint John, New Brunswick, where my mum was a nurse and my dad worked at the sugar refinery and I spent my days with my grandmother.
The tiny two-bedroom townhouse in married student housing in Watertown, Massachusetts, where I moved with my dad, pregnant mum and little sister so my dad could attend Harvard to earn his business degree.
The split-level ranch house just outside Cleveland where I was initiated into the lifestyle of quintessential (read: tacky) 1970s suburbia, with dads gone through the work week and cheesy neighbourhood gatherings on the weekends.
The house in North Toronto where my mother thought wallpapering the dining room ceiling and putting indoor-outdoor carpet in the kitchen was some kind of interior design statement – it was, and it was not good!
The house in the Chicago suburbs with the pool, the ping-pong table and the basketball net in the barn.
The other house in Toronto, which would become home base until I left for boarding school six years later.
Then there were no keys since in the all-girls school of 165 students the idea of privacy was absurd. My rooms at university had keys, but who ever thought to use them? We never had anything of any value to steal so why bother locking up?
My first job took me to Buffalo, New York, and a full-on transient existence with various roommates and a boyfriend or two. There were plenty of house keys but the only keys that mattered opened office doors. A favourite key was the one I got when I bought my first house after my transfer to Calgary: a sweet bungalow where I housed my fiancé-then-husband, then first baby and a second soon after.
Another transfer brought us to Ontario where I had three more keys to houses that welcomed two more children, survived one bout with cancer, endured one near-death experience, lost one business, and initiated one divorce.
This key? This key is so much more than a bit of metal with sharp grooves and notches. This key opens the door to a home, as I no longer live in just a house. This key opens the door to my home.
Lee Currie is a mother of four growing-up-too-fast teens in Oakville, Ontario. As her time becomes more her own to enjoy, she is discovering activities that feed her mind and soothe her soul. This new chapter no longer consists of constant cooking, folding laundry or birthday party planning, but, holds space for writing, meditation and evenings out with girlfriends. There is, of course, the added benefits of replacing the old Ikea furniture and chipped dishes. She writes about her every day, almost every day, at Linar Studio.