I live in a room. It’s filled to the very top with books, music, art, food, rows and rows of high heels, more clothing than I could ever need, and unwrapped packages placed here and there. There’s a king-sized bed in one corner and a fireplace in the other. The room is at basement-level, and there are two large windows at the top, one on either side, through which I can see the street and grass at the edge of the house, and the feet of people walking by.
I have everything I need in this room, and I am happy to live in it. I am happy to have been brought into it after so many years wandering alone outside. I am happy to continually be warm, well-fed, entertained, and at peace in this room. The door is always locked on both sides, and I am happy to see the gold key hanging securely on its hook by the door. I’ve been promised I am safe, and I know I am.
I am undisturbed in this room, except when the owner of the things stops in periodically, unannounced, and takes away a book, or a pair of shoes, or one of the unwrapped packages. I do not own anything here. I do not own the food. I do not own the albums. I do not own the clothes nor the bed nor the fireplace. I am free to enjoy most of everything, but there are some things I cannot use, though I can see them lying on a table, stacked near the fireplace, hanging in the closet. I own nothing in the room and I’m not the one who chooses what I can and cannot touch. The true owner comes and goes, and takes, as she pleases. And rightfully so.
As she comes and goes, the gold key stays hanging by the door, and I stay inside the room.
Sometimes I feel the inside air starting to get stuffy. Sometimes I see a pair of particularly attractive feet walk past the window and I wonder what would happen if I followed after. Sometimes I stand before the continually burning fire in its hearth and stare at the gold key, always hanging plainly and within my reach by the door.
I have never used the key. There have been times I’ve been bold enough to take it off its hook, turn it over and over in my hands – feeling the coolness that never leaves it – and then place it safely back.
But am I bold enough to take the key and use it? Breathe the free air outside, be drawn away by someone intriguing passing by? Am I brave enough to lose everything I have inside this room?
The day may come when I am. Sometimes I feel it coming soon; it’s just around the corner. But maybe, instead, I will stay here forever. Sometimes I go for weeks without even glancing at the key.
Sometimes I wish the owner of the things would come, tear her goods from my hands, and kick me out. I wish she would decide she has tired of my presence and tell me to finally leave, taking the key and locking the door securely behind me, this time with me on the outside.
But she has not done so and I have not left.
So still I sit, stand, sleep, read, listen, eat, live, and breathe inside the four walls of this safe, full, locked room, while the gold key hangs in its place.