Gym Locker

In seventh grade, when I was 12 years old, I started taking math class at the local public high school.

Like all the incoming freshmen, I stood in line at orientation. We finalized paperwork, got our schedules (in my case just period 1 algebra), and paid $5 as a deposit on a lock for our assigned hallway locker.

A few years later, I moved to a different state and took the lock with me. It was one of those nice, hefty ones with the dial you turn in the middle.

I didn’t use the lock for years, but somehow it stuck with me. Through multiple moves with only a duffle bag, small suitcase, and backpack—as well as the many accompanying Goodwill possession purges—the lock has survived.

I’ve long since lost the card I was given with the lock combo, but somehow I’ve always recalled those three magic numbers that make it—pop!—open.

Today, I did it again, in a new city, at a YMCA gym I never dreamt I would join until a couple weeks ago.

There’s the unlikely fit of a chess-playing math nerd like me in the weight room, and also the fact that the last YMCA I visited was around age 9 with my mom. Isn’t that for old people who like boring stuff? I just never understood the concept as an adolescent, and barely even as a college student.

Now, I finally understand that working out regularly is good for me and my sanity. It’s a high-leverage use of time that pays dividends.

Without my handy lock, I would have another hurdle in front of me before I could effectively groove into a routine. The logistics of procuring the lock are pretty easy—Amazon Prime to the rescue, or the hardware store down the street—but the mental barrier of “project gym fitness routine” can be a bit challenging when it’s next to a gazillion other to-do list items.

I’m super glad I kept the lock, and my gratitude is renewed each morning I bring it with me. It’s a little piece of history that has travelled so obligingly at my side through many years and places and faces. I love you lock; thanks for making everything easier.

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