As this lands on doorsteps, or in gutters as the case may be, I will be flying to Paris, France.
A global centre for art, fashion, gastronomy and culture, says Google. It’s also home to one of my favourite humans, who assures me she’s taking me to loads of attractions that will make my heart soar higher than the plane I swoop in on.
Eiffel tower, the Louvre and the stomping grounds of Henry Miller are a few tourist stops that are top of mind. And there’s this one bridge where you’re supposed to write an inscription on a lock and then clasp it to the chain link and throw away the key.
That goes right to the bottom of the Seine, where since around 2008 romance has bloomed. Not so sure about aquatic life and the like, but …
Ah, wait a minute. This just in. The love locks are gone.
Turns out 45 tonnes of padlocks, each representing a couple’s undying love, were removed from the Pont des Arts in the French capital this week.
Workmen removed the lock laden bridge panels on Monday, after the weight of romantic tokens proved to be too heavy for the 19th-century structure. Love already hurt the structure last June, when padlocks caused a section of the footbridge over the Seine to collapse.
All this really means to me is that “R+K=O” will instead just have to be carved into a tree somewhere. Take that, nature. You can’t get off that easy.
There are reams of web pages, however, highlighting the fact that this might just be the end of someone’s world. A destructive tradition born in the last decade could apparently end marriages, if one reads the hysteria literally.
To me, it’s a simple reminder that superficial tokens of romance are always a bad idea.
Whether they’re metal barnacles weighing down architectural wonders, Hallmark Cards with canned commentary making you realize how not unique you are, cheap chocolates wrapped in gaudy foil siphoning off precious cocoa supplies or flowers treated with chemicals suffocating developing nations, the cost of something light always turns out to be a bit too heavy.
Strangely enough, all these hollow gestures are used to laden down one of the last delights we can enjoy for free. And the case of the bridge might be the most unusual example.
If you are in love, and lucky enough to be enjoying the sight of the Seine changing colours under the sunset while on a bridge that’s centuries old, why would you mar that moment by weighing it down with a clunky, bound to rust remnant of today?
A padlock won’t keep love alive, that’s up to the user.
In the meantime, here’s hoping that the Eiffel Tower thing I’ve heard so much about is still up when I get there.