Early evening spring light filtering through my studio windows before I took the plastic off for the season.
Locking yourself out of your apartment is bad. Losing your apartment and studio keys is worse. I've done both recently-the latter just this evening. A couple of weeks ago, I locked myself out of my apartment. I realized what had happened just as the tongue of the lock clicked into the groove of the jamb. I'm sure many of you reading this know that awful, sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach as you realize that you've locked yourself out out and there's little that you can do about it. My wife was at work and I'd left my phone inside. There was nothing else to do but to walk over to the realtor's office, only to find that one of their maintenance men had taken ALL of the keys to the rentals so he could inspect the stairway treads.
One of the agents placed a call to the maintenance man only to connect to his voicemail, so I had to cool my heels and wait. He called back in about 10 minutes and I had to rush back to the apartment in hopes of meeting him. Unfortunately, I'd left my phone in the apartment, so no one could call me in case he arrived before I did. Anyway, I walked as fast as I could and did make it back before he'd arrived.
One of the most alienating experiences is to not be able to access the place you live in. Even though you have every legal right to be in that place, you can't because you don't have access because you've locked your keys inside the place. As I stood outside the building, a three story row house that had been chopped up into apartments years ago, waiting for the maintenance man to show up, I felt an acute sense of displacement, a feeling that I'm not used to having so close to home. I'm used to getting up the stairs, unlocking the door, shutting it and continuing on to the apartment. Now, I was stuck outside wishing that I could magically turn the doorknob and everything would be ok. After another 5 minutes of waiting, the guy shows up with the keys and I'm left with a HUGE sigh of relief.
Tonight...oh, tonight was a different story altogether. I'd been in the studio for a little while working when the time came for me to leave to head out to an opening for Amze Emmons over at Works on Paper. The plan was to leave, check out the works, congratulate Amze, hang out, and return to work some more. Well, you know what they say about the best laid of plans.
I left the gallery, walked over to Barnes & Noble to browse through art magazines, and took the El back to 2nd Street. I get to my studio door, reach down to where the clip is for my keys and they aren't there. "Fuck!" was the most eloquent I was going to be in that moment (and those after). That sinking feeling hit once more and harder this time around. It's one thing to lock yourself out from somewhere, it's whole different thing to actually lose your keys. My apartment, studio, and bike lock keys were all gone. The reason that they were gone is because I had my key holder clipped onto my belt in a different place than usual-more forward than usual. My theory is that I lost them on the subway. The keys must have come unclipped due to pressure from having my bag on my lap. I didn't hear them drop because the seats on the El are covered in plush-like fabric.
So, I start to retrace my steps, hoping that the keys had dropped on the platform and I didn't hear it because of the noise, but that wasn't the case. If I'd lost them on the actual subway car, then that was a lost cause. Even if someone found them, there's no identifying information on the key rings. Lucky for me, my wife has the other set of keys to the apartment and studio that I can have copied and I have a spare set of bike lock keys. I'm a bit paranoid about losing the new set I'll have and am thinking about all kinds of almost over-the-top ways of insuring that I don't lose them again.