The Mystery of the Combination Lock
Help me solve this preteen cold case from the ’90s.
*Screams in preteen*
It’s well-established, my obsession with keeping journals and diaries as a young child. (Refer to the essay “In the Mouth of the Wolf You Will Find It” from our book Listening in the Dark.) I have boxes and bins filled with notebooks in my office closets, dating back to when I was as young as six years old. I’ve been through each of them numerous times as an adult, looking for artifacts of my young thoughts and feelings.
Recently, while going through many of my old items in preparation for the launch of the Here, Take This, I Love You series, I came across a shocking discovery: a small, blue-and-purple checkered diary with polar bears on it that I don’t remember seeing before. Even more shocking . . . a combination lock to which I do not have the code.
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Friends, you might be thinking to yourself, What’s the big deal? We all have one of those! Just break the lock open! It’s true, I could probably very easily pry the tiny, metal lock open with some kind of screwdriver or gadget, or I could rip the sides of the hardbound cover to get inside. But I have so much respect for these diaries and journals, and doing something like that would feel like a betrayal of so much of the work I’ve done with my inner child over the years.
Yes, the diary is mine, it belonged to my younger self, but breaking it open would be like breaking into it, and I can’t help but feel like this would be some massive breach of trust between present-day Amber and that little girl she once was. This feels especially true now that I’m a mom and can sense the full weight of what a transgression like this would mean to my own daughter.
I know this might sound crazy to you. I get it. But don't many of us have our own post-decades-worth-of-therapy-for-various-issues thing: a ritual or rule that makes absolutely no sense to anyone else except us? For me, I know I owe it to myself—and certainly to my younger self who decided the words inside this diary were worth combination-lock-level protection—to try and figure out the combination first before jamming a metal object in to break it open.
Growing up a child actor, the lines were constantly being blurred between my own individual self and needs, and those of the adults and industry that I was trained to please. Setting boundaries and honoring them has become a big part of my grown-up life, even when that honoring is sometimes simply symbolic, such as the case of my locked diary. This is not about whether or not I should open and read the diary; it’s about the trust I’ve built with myself to do it in an honest way. My mom never snuck in and read my diaries and I’m sure as hell not going to now.
So, friends, here’s where you come in.
I want you to try and help me figure out what this combination code is so we can open the diary together and find out what’s inside. Yep. You and me. It’s a three character combination, and we have the following options to choose from: a crown symbol and the letters M, Y, D, I, A, R, Y.
Side note: Neither I nor our managing editor Aly Sarafa could figure out why there were two Y’s on this combination lock. I was especially baffled, thinking it was some super extra secretive layer of protection we were going to have to decode. Turns out, it just spells “my diary.” Neither of us figured that out until . . . just before posting this.
Three of these characters combined will open the diary, that much I remember. This means there are hundreds of different combinations we could try to access the glorious, unicorn-praising, spell-casting, boy-crushing, stick-figure-drawing content inside.
Can you help me guess in the comments? Please share your three character combination guesses in the comments below. Whoever guesses the right combination will get a free, one year premium subscription to our community here, or, if you’re already a paid subscriber, I’ll give you a gift subscription to give away.
I’ll start. Wish me luck.
*Takes a deep breath.*
. . . Incorrect.
Petition to start a sub-substack that's just all of us solving low-stakes mysteries together in the comment section every week.
I would have busted that thing open like Janelle Monae in Glass Onion