Last October I wrote about the locks along a bridge in Portland, now I’ve been to another city with these metal metaphors.

These small bits of metal could not be pulled off by any of the visitors on the bridge, though I hope none would try. The combinations had been spun to randomness or keys thrown into the waves below. Nothing natural was going to open them back up. To break these locks would take an outside force like bolt cutters or a raging storm. No simple bump of a hip could break those little metaphors. And, I hoped in a silent prayer, that the relationships they represented would be just as strong.

Along the bridge were hundreds of locks. Signs indicated that others had been taken off previously, due to the weight impacting stability. So those hundreds reflected possibly thousands more, each one with a story that we didn’t get to know. But I could imagine them. I could imagine a couple getting engaged, first by placing a lock on the fence and then a ring on a finger. I could imagine teenagers sneaking away from the group to share a quiet, sweet moment. I could imagine a couple celebrating 50 years together and clicking the lock in a hopeful promise for 50 more. Every lock was the witness to an unknown story that for at least one moment was all goodness and light.

And because stories are, unfortunately, not all good or all light, that moment on the bridge might be a memory to hold onto later on. The click of the hook might echo when times were hard, voices were raised, or when it was silent and dark. The little lock on the bridge did not mean that the couple had to stay together (maybe ending would be for the best), but that “click” might create enough pause to think about what it would mean to stay or what it would mean to end well. Just because those teenage lovebirds might not make it to retirement together does not mean that their love is not real. It was as real as that lock and that moment.

And as a dedicated hopeless romantic, I choose to believe every lock on that bridge led to a happily ever after.

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