This is the third in a series of entries about the little parts of polyamory, from individual perspectives.
I have a set of keys like a janitor. It is partially due to my newly found career as “21st Century Handyman” (I’ll fix your toilet, your filing system, and your social media presence!). But it is also because I am polyamorous.
I knew that I wanted to be a part of my partners’ lives, and that I wanted to be someone who they could trust and let into their hearts. But this also meant that they would trust me with their pets. That is how the key thing started for me.
I agreed to cat sit for my girlfriend while she went on a week-long vacation. I went and fed them after work, and even spent a night there to be sure that they were okay. When she came back, she told me to hold onto the keys. She said that it would make things logistically easier, especially when I would beat her home from work.
For me, this said something that words had not quite been able to convey. I knew that she loved me, and I knew that we were close. But being considered a part of her home and part of her life in such a way was very powerful. I carried those keys with genuine pride, and I would look at them and smile. Giving them back to her when we broke up was another little bit of pain in that moment, but I never regretted having them.
I know that it could be seen like I am bragging, or that the number of keys is some kind of absurd poly scoreboard, existing as some kind of egotistical exercise. It isn’t that way for me. It isn’t about how many keys I have, but what they signify.
Keys are an opening, and I love the connection that having them speaks to. There is intimacy and trust and love in those little metal tabs. For the non-solo folk that I’m seeing, it is a sign that their live-in metamours accept me and trust me, not just as someone who they are okay with their partner seeing, but as someone who is an important part of their lives. And for the solo folk, it absolutely feels like I am an important part in their lives, and that there is a real commitment in place. Those keys are a constant reminder of those relationships, and I carry the keys around with me in the same way that I carry around those relationships in my heart.
Keys also signify consent, in a way that feels very concrete. Keys are given and taken away. Context is given around their use. But those conversations naturally take place, and perhaps force them to take place. I need and crave clarity of consent, and having a reminder of that with me is a powerful sentiment for me.
Keys stand for my commitment to polyamory as my identity. Regardless of the situation that I am in, whether I am out or not, whether poly would be accepted or not, I’m still holding those keys. I am still what I am, and it doesn’t matter where I am, or who I am with. All I need to do is remember that, or hold them in my hand, or just feel their presence with me, and it makes me feel stronger and secure in who I am.
Maybe I am over-thinking this. Maybe this isn’t as big of a deal as I think it is. All I do know is that the action of receiving the keys to someone’s home feels like an incredibly intimate act to me, and I am proud that I am trusted and loved in such a way.