I’ve read stories about a bridge in Paris where couples will hook a lock into the side, and then toss the key into River Seine below. There are so many locks on the bridge and officials have to go through cutting them off to ensure that the bridge does not bend under the weight.
In Portland, Oregon, there is a similar tradition though on a slightly less magical bridge. But even without the enchanting views of Paris, the metaphor of being locked together forever is real. Those who place their locks on the fence are not hopeless romantics. Instead they are hopeful romantics. With stories that probably would not fit into the confines of a Hallmark or Lifetime movie. Instead it’s a series of choices to not go back to the bridge and break the lock.
At first when I heard about the locks being taken off the bridges, the romantic heart in me ached. Yes, I get the practicality of the bridge requiring a certain weight limit. And that thousands of couples visit that city each year (maybe even each month) so there is also a limited amount of fence space. But come on!
Now I can include the ending of the locks into the story as well as the beginning of them. Each lock has to be intentionally taken off the fence. They are not simply blown away or dropped off after a certain number of days. Instead a force has to challenge the metal with time, strength, and intention. And in some way the couple knows this and must resist the temptation to check-in on their little metaphor or watch over it at night. They must continue on with life, believing that they will forever be part of that bridge and not part of it. When it comes to Portland’s version it is beautiful that those locks are part of a city also called Bridgetown.
So, my readers and hopefully hopeful romantics, within your vows to one another promise to toss the key, forget the combination, and never ever buy bolt cutters.
#52sparks is my year-long writing series based on an art prompt challenge. The title is inspired by a quote from Star Wars: The Last Jedi: “We are the spark, that will light the fire that’ll burn the First Order down” (Poe Dameron). The spark that lights a fire to toast a marshmallow or to ravage a forest begins in the space of an inch. So just imagine what hundreds of inches and words can do.