• The Locks

    I have mentioned before that they are everywhere. In hindsight ‘everywhere’ is somewhat of an exaggeration. Obviously, padlocks aren’t attached to things everywhere in Paris, but they are certainly concentrated around the Seine. Especially, but not limited to, bridges. At first encounter, it is endearing. Continue walking and the sight of them becomes a bit distracting. After a while, they are what they are - ugly and empty. The other day I paused and just for interest, read a few. It sounds strange to read a lock of course, but it is the heartfelt message scribed upon it wherein the true story lay. Sort of.  

    Imagine my disappointment this day when the first lock I tilted in my hands read ‘Sandra and future husband’ scribbled in fading marker pen. Sigh.

    At some point Sandra had been here. Alone, or with friends, I can’t say. If she was with friends, maybe they were here with their husbands or partners, or not. All I know is that Sandra committed her loveless life to the bridge. Was she coming back? Was there a sequel lock nearby?

    Not that I could see.

    I started thinking about Sandra. I wondered why she felt compelled to perform a ritual, apparently and probably rightly so, loathed by the French. Was Sandra thinking that her lock would be the one that would tip the scales and collapse the Pont des Arts into a watery grave out of spite, or was she being genuinely optimistic and would return to release that thing with bolt cutters and replace it with, say, ‘Sandra and Stan Forever’?

    I will probably never know. I went for a happy ending. I had visions of Sandra and Stan riding off on their rented Vélib’ bicycles after pledging their love with a padlock and colliding with a taxi at the nearest intersection. They simultaneously somersault over the bonnet, pick themselves up off the cobblestone street in the middle of midday traffic and kiss. All around, with the traffic stopped, Parisians clap and fountains nearby become particularly active. Just to add cream, all the pigeons decide to take to the skies at once.

    Sandra is out there somewhere. Hopefully with Stan, or someone else. Oana Paula Vainer has taught herself how to pick the love locks during her time here at the CIté and apply a new context. Her work, Bruce loves Michelle can be found here: