While hitchhiking around Europe, I came across a trend that I’d never heard of, but immediately fell in love (pun intended) with: love locks. Couples from all walks of life unite in a symbolic expression of love by attaching a padlock to poles, fences, and bridges in major cities, and throwing the key over the side into the river. Although admittedly not a very unique gesture when there are hundreds of them, the romantic in me was immediately drawn to the locks. They shined so brilliantly in the Prague sun the first time that I saw them, and they continued to dazzle me throughout my adventures.
J wondered aloud how many people now wished they could dive back in and retrieve their key- “nothing lasts forever”. “How miserably depressing of a sentiment,” I remember thinking. Yes, odds are that many of those loves weren’t as unbreakable as the couples foresaw, but in that moment, that wonderfully perfect moment, they were the only two people on the planet, and they were happy.
Love is a powerful force. To illustrate this, consider the Milvian Bridge (Ponte Milvio) in Rome: so much love weighed down on a lamp post that it collapsed. People were banned from attaching love locks for fear of the bridge following suit. Initially, a website was created to allow people to share padlocks virtually, but this wasn’t enough. People desired a physical manifestation of their love, which prompted the mayor to build steel columns into the bridge in order to support real locks once more.
Say what you will when you see love locks around the world: corny, unoriginal, wishful thinking, drunk-in-silly-love youngsters. But one thing is for certain: in a time full of borders, hate, and media filth, it’s comforting to be reminded of the love, compassion, and, most importantly, hope that still burns in the world.