When I was little, maybe eight or nine yers old, I saw an open padlock with no key in the empty field near our house, the one I had to walk by every day to get to school. I guess it had fallen off a truck or something, and it was pretty similar to the one Dad used to lock the garage, so I knew just how it worked.

It was heavy in my hands, worn but not rusted, and by gingerly testing the spring of its clasp, I could see that it would lock readily. But without a key, there’d be no getting it back open again. Bolt cutters and angle grinders weren’t something I even considered at the time, but even if I had known about them, I’m not sure it would have mattered.

I hid that old lock in my backpack and spent the next couple of days in thought about what to affix it to. Like cutting and grinding, the idea of just throwing it away never even crossed my mind. Locks were made to be locked, and this one would have to be locked around something. That’s just how it was.

The old fence, every empty lock-clasp I’d seen around school or round town…I thought about every one of them as a home for my new lock. But I kept coming back to the lack of a key. In my mind, whatever I locked would be locked forever. Whatever I put the lock on, even if it wasn’t a lock, it would be stuck there forever.

Looking back, I think that lock was my first real idea of permenancy, of consequence, regarding my own actions. Whatever I did with that beat-up old lock would be forever, there’d be no undoing it. Was there anything I wanted to lock with that level of permenancy?

In the end, I experimentally hung it a few places but chickened out each time. Instead, I kept the lock with my knickknacks in my room, waiting for a better occasion to use it. As far as I know, it’s still there, in my parents’ house, in some old box. Still waiting to be locked; still waiting for forever.

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