A Centuries Old Souvenir

I am not sure you are still doing this theme, heirlooms right? I thought about it when the theme first came up but felt my heirlooms are mostly old photographs, mine and my family’s. Then I thought of this. A key to the Abbey of Mont St Michele in Normandy France. I acquired it in 1997 while working on a project for Microsoft. I was there for a week in March and the French Ministry of Culture had given me full access. And with it, 2 keys that opened every door in the place. We could go where ever we wanted, some were rooms that tourists had no access to. The only restriction was that we had to work during open hours. It wasn’t a big deal, being winter and all, and few tourist around. It was a pretty amazing week, searching the abbey, opening doors. Some rooms were storage for file cabinets and office furniture. But others were empty, filled only with the spirits of centuries past. At week’s end I turned in the keys and jokingly asked if I could keep one? I said I collected old keys, which is true actually. I assume he would laugh and say no, but instead, he said not that one and rummaged through a drawer and another identical one. Said it was broken. And gave it to me. I was stunned. A centuries old souvenir. For years it just sat around my house and collected dust, though I occasionally shared it. One day some friends were visiting, from France no less, with their small children. I shared the key with them and told them the story behind it. One of the children played with the key and disappeared with it to play in another room. It took me days to find it in an upstairs bathroom. I realized then I needed to preserve it somehow, lest it become lost and just another junk store oddity. So I created this piece, with my photo and the story of it taped to the back of the print. Perhaps now it might become someone else’s future heirloom. One with meaning.