Padlocks on Lovers' Bridge, Paris
This was a new sight for Tib and me. In 1949 it was simply the
pedestrian footbridge which we used to cross the Seine to the Right Bank from our sixth floor walk-up on the Left Bank. Today thousands of padlocks are clamped to the wire mesh between the guard rails.
Some are tiny, the size of my thumb; others as large as a child's fist. Most are inscribed. "Pierre et Jeannette, ensemble pour les siecles." "Marie et Alain, toujours."
The bridge is wooden and I feel it shake as people cross. Most are intent on other errands , but romantic couples have come here too. They kiss -- not the conventional French way, briefly on both cheeks, but long, lingering kisses on the lips. Then they stoop, giggling, press their padlock shut around a wire, straighten up, hold hands, and he flings the padlock key into the Seine.
As a symbol of fidelity, Tib and I agreed, it was a lot more meaningful than names scrawled on a wall. Actually, we learned, the padlocks had been the center of a typically French controversy. Long-term commitment seemingly violated a tradition which some considered uniquely Parisian, the freedom to love each other only "for now."
And in a classically French response, the city at one point ordered the padlocks removed, sidestepping the quarrel by citing visual pollution. Several thousand were in fact destroyed. Almost immediately they began appearing again until today the padlocks are an accepted part of the Parisian scene.
Of course as part of this 65th anniversary trip Tib and I had to buy a padlock and add ours to these little tokens of commitment. Actually, Tib and I too see our relationship as just for-now. We love each other "in the moment." And in the next moment. And the next, and the next . . .