On the eve of 2014, I found myself crossing Pont des Arts in Paris alone. I had walked the bridge before, but thought placing a lock on it ridiculous then. At that time, I’d broken things off with someone I was dating in New York, so the romantic in me was on sabbatical. Still, I was just as single on December 31, 2013 as I was during my first crossing, but my pessimistic viewpoint had diminished. This time, I found couples securing locks with their initials written on them to the bridge to be a simple and yet beautiful gesture. It meant that no matter how shitty things got, they were stuck with each other … destinies collectively imprisoned.
I, in what might be my Drakiest moment ever, purchased a lock of my own for five or six Euro because I too wanted a metal bit to symbolize having my fate tied to another.
The idea was that I would return to the bridge at some point in my life to propose. I didn’t know if that would be five years from that moment, or ten, but I wrote my first name on the lock. I would keep the key in my wallet, and when the time was right, propose on Pont des Arts. If my partner said yes, I would find the lock, have her write her initial on it, and together we’d toss the key into the Seine below.
Well now, thanks to what’s become an eyesore and enormous safety concern, my lock is gone. In fact, every lock on the bridge has been removed, some 45 tons worth. I get that the thing was built in the 1800s, and the bridge may have eventually collapsed, but I’m a millennial, man. Where’s my shine? Bruno Julliard, the deputy mayor in charge of culture, says that Paris is still “the capital of love, the capital of romance,” despite them disposing of the locks, but fuck that, Bruno.
Where am I supposed to propose now? I was planning some epic shit, my man. Ugh!
Julliard adds that initially the locks “could be seen as rather pleasant, but as years passed they took on such proportions that they were no longer acceptable for the cultural heritage” of Paris. Guess I’ll have to propose on a gondola in Venice or something since the French want to act brand new. As for the whereabouts of my lock, which I’m not getting reimbursed for, it’s being stored in a city warehouse until officials decide what to do with it and all of its neighbors. In their stead on the bridge, plexiglass will provide a clear view to the river below, but not the 700,000 keys at the bottom of it.