When we left Michigan for France I brought this empty key ring with me. I figured I would need something to keep my keys on, so when I took the last key off the ring, I put it in my pocket. This was the night before we boarded our plane in December 2016.
And, as expected, I put keys on it. The key to our apartment, and the key to the garage where we kept our bikes. It was full for a while, but then it came time to leave France after we finished language school. It was empty again.
During our arrival in Cameroon, it filled again. Keys to our house, to my office. Periodically I would attach a car key to this ring.
But, as we were leaving Cameroon about a month ago, I stared down at this key ring again.
It was empty.
It was waiting for what was next.
I didn’t realize it when I left, but I was bringing with me a very tangible representation of transition.
Loved ones are removed, new friends are added.
Emptied and filled.
You can’t live overseas without a terrible hole in your heart from having to leave those you love behind. At the same time you also know that loved ones are waiting on the other side, family, old friends, or even those you haven’t met yet.
In between you have an empty key ring.