She put it around my neck and I don't know why it was such a big deal. It was just an old key on a chain with one word crudely stamped on it. CREATE.
It was stamped by homeless people who were paid to stamp it there. She knew that would appeal to me.
She told me how she enjoyed my writing and how she hoped the key would inspire me to finish my book because she couldn't wait to read this unborn thing that she knew would be beautiful.
So I cried a lot and she did too. Well I cried a lot and she cried a little. Pretty much nobody puts on a good squall like I do.
I wanted to keep it longer so maybe I shouldn't have started the praying so soon. But yesterday I passed it on.
A former student of mine. In the two years I've known her, I've seen her struggle with her faith in God, her faith in people, and her faith in herself. Then I watched her admiration of musicians become her talent for music. Then I watched her self-loathing turn to self-love.
If you are puzzled as to how a person could teach middle school for a living, the privilege of witnessing things like this is one of the puzzle pieces you're missing.
Yesterday I put it on her neck and tried to say all the things Jenn said to me about talent and potential and inspiration.
I hope she uses it to unlock another door inside her behind which more greatness is hiding. I know there's more. Lots more.
I miss the key. Sometimes I reach up to fiddle with it and it's not there. I passed it on.
But the best thing about the key is that even though you pass it on, you get to keep the best part. And you get to give it away at the same time. Like that Amish bread starter where you give it away and still have as much as you had in the first place.
The part that tells you that someone believes in you... the way I believe in Abby, and Jenn believes in me.