What terrifies me most isn’t spiders, public speaking, or people who ask me what I’ve been up to lately. It’s when someone reminds me that we’re at peak mental capacity in our 20s. So, forgetfulness in 20s… my already frequent bouts of short-term memory loss… it’s only downhill from here.
Mom drove my cousin and uncle, who’re visiting from Taiwan, up to Austin for the weekend. Friday, we took them to the typical tourist stops—Veracruz Taco, New Braunfels tubing, the Congress bats, Texas barbecue. I’d made plans with camp friends to go to Barton Springs, a natural watering hole in Austin, Saturday at 3PM, so they decided to drive back to Dallas around then.
Back when I’d Marie Kondo-d my room, I’d filled a box with corporate merch (the branded pens, koozies, and flyers they hand out when tabling) to offer Mom in case she wanted anything, and we went through the box as I waited for my ride to Barton.
Mom: So everything in here, if I don’t want, I can throw away?
Me: Yeah, though maybe take the keychain wristband.
Mom: Is it for not losing your key when you go out? Isn’t the key out in the open then?
Merely discussing the possibility of losing something made me anxious, so I got up to make sure I hadn’t forgotten something essential for Barton. I slipped sunscreen and sunglasses into a drawstring bag. Got a towel. As for the key, my previous roommate, when moving out, had left a spare on the counter. When I don’t take my wallet out, I usually slip one into my phone case behind the phone. I also counted out the $5 cash entry fee, proud of myself for being prepared.
My ride came, and our car was the first to make it to Barton. Our experience was about as expected, meaning we slipped into uncomfortably cold water, appreciated dogs, and embedded sticks and stones into our feet. At one point I got too confident and tried to hoist myself out of the water without a ladder, (very minorly) scraping my knee. It bled only slightly and had already been wet, so I figured if I were going to get an STD I’d have already gotten it and jumped back in the water.
Once we returned to campus, my friend stopped the car in the middle of the street and I tumbled out, laughing. I scaled the stairs to my apartment, spirits still high, and peeled off my phone case for the key.
It wasn’t there. My stomach bottomed out as I dropped to my knees and rummaged through my drawstring bag. Nothing. How could it have fallen out? The case was intact.
I called Mom on the very slim chance they hadn’t left too long ago, but she didn’t pick up. Probably on the road.
Me, texting her: My key fell out of where I kept it
I frantically texted in the camp GroupMe. I texted a friend I’d seen working at the food truck court we’d stopped by. I texted the guy who’d given me a ride, thinking it might’ve fallen out as I’d hurriedly left the car. One by one, messages popped up in the negative as people checked their things for a single gold key.
The realty office had closed at 3 and would be closed the next day (Sunday.) I called the after-hours maintenance number with low expectations, remembering the last time I’d called it and gotten directed to the regular maintenance number. The lady told me someone could open the door for me but named a price.
Me: I’d have to get into the apartment first.
Lady: Someone will call you.
Me: Do you have a timeframe?
Lady: I don’t know when he’ll call you.
I waited around for twenty minutes or but stayed briefly at a friend’s place after I started getting innumerable mosquito bites. Someone did call, and another half hour later he came. Mom texted back that I should’ve used the keychain wristband I’d given her.
Ashamed and itchy and alone for the first time this weekend, I looked around the empty apartment. And my gaze fell on the counter, where a single gold key sat. I started to blink and then decided I didn’t feel like ever opening my eyes again.
I’d never brought the key outside.
An almost four-year-old post that shows I’ve learned nothing: low-key no key: breaking and entering is deceptively difficult
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