Bermuda prison keys

Keys from a prison in Bermuda

A set of prison keys from 1806 from Bermuda can evoke all sorts of thoughts, emotions and memories.

When iSissy1 wrote about brass this week, I thought of these little treasures and wanted to share them with you. I bought them while on a trip to Bermuda in 1982 (or thereabouts). It is impossible to hold them without thinking of the man who carried them or the men whose lives were forever changed by the door these very keys locked. I am sure that the conditions presented to prisoners of 1806 were probably comparable to the bowels of hell. Did you know that oftentimes, the British didn’t build a prison? They used decommissioned ships and converted them to floating prisons in a harbor. The masts and sails were removed, I’m sure just to make sure that the prison population didn’t mount a rebellion and sail off into the sunset.

And these also serve as a reminder of everything that was going on in my life at that time. The good things, the bad things. I will share one bizarre story about that trip.

In the hotel dining room, there was a group of people having a great time. I think there were 7 men and 6 women. I was single and alone. The one lone man in the group came and invited me to join them, which I did. I was immediately taken by just how much fun they were having and I thought it was a group of married couples who were enjoying a nice vacation. Ha! They were all married, but not to anyone sitting at that table. All of the men were golfers. All the women were friends. (I think they were school teachers.) Apparently several years before both groups had arrived in Bermuda on vacation and in that same dining room, got to know each other. One thing led to another, and I guess there was some quick pairing up and it became a real life “Same Time Next Year”. Apparently, the guy who had invited me to the table had lost his partner and was cruising for a replacement. Every year, these idiots would meet in Bermuda.

What was funny about the whole thing is that they were just trying so darn hard to be having fun. There wasn’t any true joy or happiness at that table. It all made me very sad. The event made me realize just how many people spend a lot of their lives working hard at being happy. I did ask one of the women if she really thought the annual excursion was truly worth it. She said she wouldn’t miss it for the world. I thought I should be feeling contempt, but all if felt was pity. I felt sorry for all of them. I’ve often wondered what has happened to all of them. I would imagine most of them are divorced. I actually kept in touch with the guy for awhile.

Sometimes it has crossed my mind as I handled those keys that we are capable of creating all sorts of prisons for ourselves and it is crucial to find the “key” to open the door so we can live our lives with true joy. I guess that is why I think it is always so much more fun to have treasures like these keys rather than some modern brass trinket that comes from Pottery Barn or Pier 1. Give me those things that have lived, that are filled with memories and have its own story.

I love my keys. I love my life. I love my story.