The Love Lock Down

By Jessica Kirby

Love is a crazy thing and falling in love is a tricky business. One minute it has you flitting around hand-in-hand with blushed cheeks, feeling like you’re on top of the world and the next it flips your whole world upside down and shoves your heavy heart into a rut so deep you’re not sure you’ll ever get out. Love is black and white. But these days the line between these two polar opposites is getting a little blurrier, a little grayer. But why? Well, the answer is simple—people are terrified of change.

This week the city of love has begun the removal process of the famed Love Lock Bridge near the Pont des Arts. Although this news has devastated many of the travelers who have passed over the bridge and left their mark on the city, the Paris natives don’t seem to be heartbroken about this change. In fact, they’ve been fighting for quite a few years to have the locks removed in an effort to save the bridge and the historical architecture of the city.

Although this popular tourist movement has only been around since 2008, the concept of “love locks” dates back to the time periods surrounding the First World War. For years, couples have been visiting popular tourist spots and sealing their love by clipping locks onto the architectural grid work of bridges, buildings and poles. This popular bucket-list action is then followed by tossing the lock’s key into a nearby river, lake or ocean. In partaking in this, the couple essentially seals their fate in an effort to make their love last “forever.” The sweet gesture has spread to countries all over the world, from Paris to New York and many others in-between.

So on May 31 when cranes began removing the 45 tons of locks from the bridge on the Seine, people from countries across the world were devastated. How could the iconic symbols of love and romance just be tossed away? The answer is simple; the weight of all the love on the bridges was actually weighing down the structures and sinking them down into the river. Natives of the city had even begun to join forces and form groups such as “No Love Locks” in an effort to stop the trend and save their bridges. They began placing signs on the structures stating “our bridges can no longer withstand your gestures of love.” It is evident that although this seems like a harmless and even playful tradition, it had become somewhat of a threat to the architecture of the beloved city. It is no surprise, however, that when the deconstruction process began, the news spread like wildfire. Anyone who had ever taken part in these romantic gestures was sure to be heartbroken by the fact that the mark they left on Paris was being removed.

The Pont des Arts, aka The Love Lock Bridge in Paris

The Pont des Arts, aka The Love Lock Bridge in Paris

Although the bridge is said to lock the couple into a lifetime of happiness and love, unfortunately this isn’t always the case. There are two types of relationships that are represented on those bridges along the Seine—the ones that last and the ones that don’t. And what does this bridge have to do with this arbitrary coincidence? Absolutely nothing.

The “forevers”, the soul mates, the marriages, the happy couples:

So you visited the illustrious Love Lock Bridge on your honeymoon thirty years ago. You bought that tiny red lock from the vendor on the street along the Seine and the five-euro Sharpie, sat down on a bench and scribbled your names and anniversary on the cheap metal. You wandered over to the bridge, strolling hand in hand, and searched for the perfect spot to clip your lock for the rest of time. The lock clicks, and you kiss each other gently and toss the key into the river.

So now the grates are gone, your lock is gone and your love is gone. Right? Wrong!
Do you really believe that your love is weaker than a rickety, timeworn bridge and a rusty lock? And more importantly do you think that that love would have lasted if that were the case? Of course not! The bond between two people, who actually want to be together forever, is far stronger than the physical one that’s honored by closing a lock onto a bridge in a foreign city. Love trumps all.

The whole history behind the Love Lock Bridge is simply a product of romantic comedies; love-lusting twenty-somethings and too much social media. The bridge being taken apart, lock-by-lock, is not symbolic of your relationships and chances are if you believe that, it will fall apart because of your senseless insecurities. Love is strong and it will stand the test of time, so long as it’s right. So long as it isn’t being forced, so long as it isn’t “gray.”

If anything, you should all consider yourselves victors since your love is actually stronger than the metal that’s supposed to hold thousands upon thousands of people!

The heartbreaks, the divorces, the failed relationships:

When we consider the number of grates on those famed bridges that are clad with locks honoring broken hearts, failed relationships and ended friendships, it becomes evident that the locks were weighing on much more than the Parisian architecture.

The thing is—not every love is meant to last. Not every love is going to sweep you off your feet and give you the wild swarm of butterflies we read about in books.

People hate change, they’re terrified of it—it’s one of the most basic principles of life. It’s 2015 and unfortunately, people would rather shackle themselves in a miserable relationship than end one. People are so scared of a little variation that they would rather spend the rest of their days living in a dead end relationship that does nothing but send both parties plummeting into the ground. They’d rather continue on, miserably, than start over. Just as we’ve seen from years of love worn on the bridges of Paris, locks are weighty. It’s when we hastily clip our locks onto another person that the locks wear and wear and wear until we simply can’t stand the weight of them anymore. Until the shackles are so tight and so heavy that what was once something beautiful, is destroyed.

People are too afraid to cut their ties and move on with their lives. They’re afraid to let go of something that’s causing them more pain than good and start over. Of course for some people this is more of a change than for others, but does this mean it isn’t worth it? Definitely not.

I have to say there is nothing more heartbreaking than sitting in a restaurant and watching as a couple eats lifelessly, checks their phones every five minutes and stares off into space, just doing whatever they can to imagine that they’re somewhere else. How is this enjoyable? How is this something you’d like to envision yourself living for the rest of your life? How is this your forever? Forever is a really long time. It’s endless, it’s constant and it’s always. Forever should feel right. The thought of it should give you those butterflies twenty years down the road when your hands still fit together perfectly but have a few more deep-rooted wrinkles on them.

We have to let go of the fear we’re holding onto, fish those keys out of the Seine and move on. The destruction of the iconic bridge should give us all the more reason to do so. To let go, to start over, and be happier! It’s time to cut ties with the relationships that are toxic to our lives and search for a little something more. Something that makes you happy, makes you whole and leaves you breathless. Of course this might be easier said than done, but love isn’t always easy. Sometimes it’s the hardest thing you’ve ever done. Sometimes falling in love is so hard it’s makes you wonder why people even bother doing it at all. But at the end of the day, it should be rewarding. After all, there must be a reason why people keep falling in love time and time again. It should feel like home when you’re face to face with your significant other. The thought of forever shouldn’t scare you, bore you or make you cringe. It should feel right. And if it doesn’t, change it.

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