Paris is getting a lot of press lately on their decision to remove the padlocks of love from the Pont des Arts bridge. Of course, everybody has their opinions on the matter, from those who find the locks to be a must-see tourist attraction (right up there with seeing the Eiffel Tower and the Louvre) to those who understand the realistic dangers of thousands of metal locks weighing down the side panels of a bridge. Then there are those who believe their love lives and dies with that Sharpie’d up metal padlock. The day they threw that key into the Seine in the most romantic city in the world represented a monumental commitment. As if locking it up and throwing away the key is the ultimate form of marriage insurance.
We got engaged under the Eiffel Tower. It was April in Paris and I’ll never forget the sparkle of the tower, of the ring, of the lights reflecting off the surface of the Seine. That night and that first trip to Paris will forever live in my mind. Despite all of the grand romantic gestures my future husband planned, neither one of us ever felt the need to lock our engagement onto the sides of a city bridge. Who were we to leave our footprint on a city so full of its own culture and beauty?
Despite never locking our love to the Pont des Arts, this summer Paul and I will celebrate 5 years of marriage. It works because there is no other person who can remember that night under the twinkling Eiffel Tower, or the homeless man who charged after us to give us a congratulatory hug, or Paul’s trip to the drugstore to ask (in French) for something to alleviate the uncomfortable itchy rash I got afterwards. It works because when bicycling through the streets of Paris, I unknowingly cut Paul off and kept riding, while a Parisian on a scooter scooped my new fiancée off the ground. His shoulder has ached ever since. It’s these moments that we still laugh about that keep us fastened together. We don’t need a padlock for that.
So go. Travel. See the world with the one you love. Learn. When you leave, take your memories, your photos, and tell some unforgettable stories when you get home. But, by all means, don’t take down history with your declaration of love. A bridge built in 1800 wasn’t designed to withstand this outpouring of metal devotion. But a relationship built on making moments can withstand just about anything.