Locks close things in; keep other things out.  I didn’t know it until last night, but locks can resurrect memories and even be something passed down to the next generation.

The lock pictured above is the combination lock that I used in junior high school P.E.  I don’t know which is more frightening:  the fact I still have the lock, or that I remember the combination.  (This is odd, considering I can’t remember anything unless it’s written on a Post-It note.)

Many of my school memories are filled with embarrassment, anxiety and self-consciousness.  P.E. was the worst.  “Dressing out” in my gym clothes was only the beginning.

Oh, how can P.E. embarrass me?

Let me count the ways…

There’s softball and archery,

Basketball, soccer and weights.

Volleyball and rope climbing,

Square dancing before the holidays…

When my son came home and said he needed a lock for his gym locker (his first year to get a locker), I remembered my old lock.  I found it in a desk drawer a few days ago and almost dropped in our Goodwill donation box.  For some reason, I didn’t.

This lock symbolized a time of self-loathing and obsessing over everything I couldn’t do well.  Giving it to my son allowed me to let go; literally and figuratively.

Do you have anything you’ve kept but didn’t know why?  Was P.E. a time for you to show off your athletic prowess, or creative skills (while dreaming up the perfect sick excuse?)

26 thoughts on “Unlocked

  1. diannegray August 16, 2012 / 2:51 AM

    Oh, Janna – this is kind of sad and I think I got a bit misty reading this (NO – I must have had something in my eye).

    It reminded me of my school days and PE and all those other things that life slaps in our face and says ‘deal with it!’

    My daughter is so uncoordinated it’s ridiculous (having said that – she was a brilliant student coming in the top 2 per cent of her university) but when she was at school she always felt sightly ‘ill’ on PE days. I’m such an enabler! I would write her sick notes as fast as I could because I didn’t want her to feel pressured like I did at school. I don’t think it did her any damage at all and now we often sit around and laugh about those times.

    The lock is a beautiful analogy for what you felt and I’m so glad you let it go 🙂

    • jannatwrites August 16, 2012 / 7:37 PM

      Maybe the lack of athletic ability would’ve been easier to take if I had been as smart as your daughter….I did well in school, but wasn’t top 5% smart. I think if we experienced a hardship, we’re more likely to help our kids not face that circumstance (like writing sick notes to get out of the humiliation of P.E. :)) My boys haven’t complained about P.E. yet, so they may do just fine.

      Thanks for sharing your experience with P.E., Dianne. I’m glad I’m not alone in my dislike of that class!

  2. suzicate August 16, 2012 / 4:21 AM

    Oh the gift of passing on the insecurities of middle school!

    • jannatwrites August 16, 2012 / 7:38 PM

      I still have insecurities, but they aren’t as traumatic. I’m glad you stopped by Suzicate…I hope you are doing well.

  3. pattyabr August 16, 2012 / 8:06 AM

    I was watching “Everybody Loves Raymond” rerun this week (not sure why but I was) and the episode was why Raymond kept a cassette tape of a girl breaking up with him over the phone on a voice mail message. It was quite hilarious, but rang with the same reason of hanging on and letting go. We are going through some of that in our house now with our son moving to Australia, hanging onto stuff and letting it go and shredding the past.

    • jannatwrites August 16, 2012 / 7:41 PM

      That does sound like a funny show, Patty. (I actually enjoy watching Raymond reruns once in a while.) Wow, Australia is far away. I’ve heard it’s beautiful there. And maybe you’ll get to go visit him there (and share pictures on your blog :))

  4. The Gal Herself August 16, 2012 / 8:27 AM

    This was me! I get so sick of hearing people talk about adolescence as the best years of our lives. They’re so not. You captured it well, and I’m glad our heroine was able to unlock and let it go.

    • jannatwrites August 16, 2012 / 7:43 PM

      I so agree! I know people that think back longingly of those ‘glory days’. I’ve wiped most memories from my consciousness (the really embarrassing ones won’t go away, though :)) I didn’t really think of the memories tied to that lock until I handed it over to my son. Thanks for stopping by today, Gal!

  5. braintomahawk August 16, 2012 / 8:37 AM

    Assigning PE to teens is the worst idea of timing ever. I had to do the general version for the first 2 years before getting a choice. Bowling always got filled first, since it was off campus and all you had to change were your shoes…
    Whatever other sport you picked, you still had to use the same locker room!

    • jannatwrites August 16, 2012 / 7:53 PM

      I get why they want to promote exercise, Braintomahawk. It’s just the way they do it that messes us up 🙂 If my school offered bowling, I would’ve done that in a heartbeat (even though it’s yet another sport I stink at.)

  6. Widdershins August 16, 2012 / 3:52 PM

    I chose archery, because it got me out of the gym … next time around, I’m going to choose a species that doesn’t have an adolescence!

    • jannatwrites August 16, 2012 / 8:04 PM

      Archery wasn’t as bad as some of the sports. Good call on being a species without an adolescent stage, Widdershins. I’m all for that 🙂

  7. nrhatch August 16, 2012 / 7:38 PM

    I enjoyed gym . . . sometimes. Other times, not so much. I HATED square dancing and rope climbing with a passion.

    • jannatwrites August 18, 2012 / 12:06 AM

      I’m with you on both counts, Nancy! Rope climbing was traumatic for me. I couldn’t get up the rope at all no matter how much I tried. When my sons were doing gymnastics, I was in awe of the girls that would climb the ropes using only their arms (and not appearing to struggle with doing it.)

  8. yvonneroot August 17, 2012 / 7:11 AM

    PE did make me ill. Stripping naked and showering with everyone is dumb! I was an awkward child who was always chosen last or near last for team sports — another dumb practice.

    It wasn’t until my senior year of high school that I finally wanted to go to PE. I loved archery and modern dance.

    It is great you still have the lock.

    • jannatwrites August 18, 2012 / 12:00 AM

      I was chosen last, too. So embarrassing to be standing there alone and the last team totally bummed when they get stuck with you! I’m glad you found a couple areas that you liked, Yvonne…way to end the high school career on a high note 🙂

  9. pattisj August 17, 2012 / 12:43 PM

    I wasn’t a big fan of PE then, either. Every once in awhile I dream of school days and am always looking for my locker!

    • jannatwrites August 17, 2012 / 11:49 PM

      That a stressful dream, Patti. It must be some other anxiety seeping into your consciousness…

  10. philosophermouseofthehedge August 17, 2012 / 2:10 PM

    Funny thing about those gym locks – it doesn’t surprise me you kept it. (Well written!)
    Oh, what a nice kid – he didn’t complain it was an “old style” or the wrong color! (Seriously? It’s a lock…you want a trendy lock?)

    • jannatwrites August 17, 2012 / 11:22 PM

      Ha! I wouldn’t think a lock would matter, but it’s kind of funny to think about it. (I just imagined him rolling his eyes and saying, ‘Mom, I can’t use that…it’s so 1986!’) Thanks for taking time to read and share your comment, Phil!

        • jannatwrites August 18, 2012 / 12:38 PM

          I haven’t seen them, but I don’t doubt it. Thank goodness he’s not into that!

  11. cuhome August 18, 2012 / 10:11 AM

    Yeah. All those keys that I know I used for years, probably, but somehow cannot remember what they unlocked! How can I use something for years, and not remember what I used it for? And there are several!!! The funny thing is, my husband can’t remember, either. Maybe there’s a key-fairy that goes around leaving keys for people, just to make them wonder if they’re slowly losing their minds?

    • jannatwrites August 18, 2012 / 12:48 PM

      I have a dish of keys, too. Why I keep them, I have no idea. I like the idea of a key fairy…that’s much more appealing than me losing my mind!

  12. judithhb August 20, 2012 / 3:57 PM

    Am I the odd one out here Janna? I loved PE and had dreams of becoming a PE teacher. Alas that was not to be. Then my daughter who also excelled at all physical activities in school decided she would like to be a PE teacher but changed her mind. However, she is still actively involved with her boys, coaching basketball and water polo. My two sisters on the other hand both hated PE and were always looking for an excuse to miss the lesson.

    • jannatwrites August 20, 2012 / 10:36 PM

      I admire that, Judith. Being a PE teacher would’ve been my worst nightmare! I’m glad your daughter took after you and is able to have those bonding experiences with her sons.

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