I almost called this “Keys in Lock” but thought better of it. Only one key inhabits the lock of the front door to this apartment. Front door? It is the only door. I could call it the back door, the side door, the inner door. The preposition doesn’t matter. It is The Door.
I checked in to a Motel 6 in Norfolk, Virginia, on a very rainy, very dark night in October, 2005, about a month after my father’s death. I was driving his car from Florida to New York. The circumstances left me melancholy but resigned to the compromises of time. We don’t get to live forever. We don’t get to say goodbye.
The motel clerk handed me the key to a room. I plunged the key into the lock and thought, this should be a magic key. This key, I thought, should open the door not to a barren, starchy motel room but to another century. I wouldn’t care if it was the 48th century, by which time all of Virginia will have drowned under trillions of gallons of ocean water.
It wouldn’t matter because the magic key would let me shut that door and open it again, this time to the 12th century.
All centuries should be accessible. If I step 12 paces to the left, I should see dinosaurs pacing and flying about. A step to the left lands me in a 1970s Detroit night club. I look to the sky and find my face ½ a magic away from the Sun’s infernal rage. All centuries and all moments should be universally accessible. I just need the magic key.