Friday Diary: (Flashback) Amour à Paris by daintydora

"Everything feels heart-shaped in Paris."

Padlocks at Passerelle des Arts in Paris

I've been lucky enough to visit Paris three times so far, experiencing completely different sights and sounds and inspirations each time.

It was by chance that the last time I was there, my husband and I discovered the Passerelle des Arts, or 'Lover's Bridge', which has been a romantic frivolity for the last few years.

The idea is for couples to lock their own personal cadenas d’amour - love padlocks - to the fence, etched with their initials, and throw the keys into the Seine to 'lock their love together forever'.

Yes, a bit cheesy, but the kind of thing you do as a tourist in the city of love. So we did.

At first I wondered where we were going to get a padlock, but luckily all the tourist shops are well stocked on this front, and from the prices - I saw one at 9 euros - make a nice profit selling to star-crossed lovers.

Padlocks at Passerelle des Arts in Paris

We opted for a heart-shaped red version with 'Paris' in white lettering (tres chic!). There was no ritual of throwing the keys into the Seine while locked in a passionate embrace however, as it was a combination lock.

I've got the photographs so that's enough. I'm also glad we didn't contaminate the Seine any further, but also feel a bit bad that we contributed to a part of the bridge collapsing last year. Not romantic. And now the padlocks have probably all been moved. C'est la vie.

I was fascinated by the variety of padlocks on display though and took a load of photos. It was like a mini art installation that everyone could participate in. Some people had gone to a lot of trouble writing their names and love messages in permanent marker or nail varnish or Tippex, and a few even had proper engravings on. Yes. I know. Engravings - pre-meditated romance!

Padlocks at Passerelle des Arts in ParisPadlocks at Passerelle des Arts in Paris

The trend has sprung up in other cities now too. We spotted a similar padlocked bridge in Helsinki last year.

The Seine through branches

Everything view, every sight or sound in Paris is a cliché, but it doesn't matter.

Passerelle des Arts - Lover's BridgePadlocks at Passerelle des Arts in Paris

After locking our love together we wandered into the Jardin de Tuileries, where swans skimmed the pond (were there really swans? Or did I just make that up because it felt like they were there? Maybe it was just a few oiseaux. It seemed like there were swans.)

Pond in the Jardin des Tuileries

Beautiful tree etched with love heart

In the cemetery at Montparnasse, initials and a heart were etched into this tree, just metres from the graves of Simone de Beauvoir and Jean-Paul Sartre.

She was ready to deny the existence of space and time rather than admit that love might not be eternal.”
Simone de Beauvoir

Friday Diary: The things we save, unopened, unused by daintydora

I often think about the things I have that I haven't used yet, unseen and unopened. It's not that I have loads of abandoned things, but sometimes I'll find a little packet of something tucked away, like a pack of tights 'too special' to wear yet, or an unworn but coveted item of clothing that I don't want to 'spoil'. I don't think I do it consciously. It's more an understanding with myself: not yet, not yet, the time hasn't come yet.

This week I discovered four sets of earrings that my husband bought for me in 2012. I remember it was 2012 because he was working away for a few months. In London. And it was winter. And I missed him.

Unopened packets of earrings from the V&A

We saw each other every few weeks, but it's not the same. It feels different. I think you act different somehow. You get used to someone being there, or not. And when you're used to it just being you again, living alone, it takes a few days to readjust to someone else again. And then the visit is over.

One weekend I visited him in London, and of course I wanted to make the most of all the city has to offer (creative-inspiration overwhelm!)

We went to the Victoria & Albert Museum. Of course. It was the exhibition about British Design (1948-2012).

We arrived late having dawdled through the day and got lost on the Tube. The exhibition was going to close in less than an hour.

We wangled a student entry because it was so late in the day, despite not being students. We ran to the exhibition and began power-reading the signs that described the displays and absorbing all the innovation in double-quick time. We giggled. It was fun. We felt like students, young, younger, silly, carefree. I don't think we would have felt quite the same if we'd been going to an exhibition at home. Everything felt amplified and different, caught in a bubble, stretched and kaleidoscopic with colour.

Of course we had to visit the shop. I think it was open later than the exhibition? I bought a 'Betty' rain hat in vivid pink that I now feel a bit embarrassed to wear.

And then I saw the earrings. I loved them. They were so fun. My husband bought me these four designs. It was silly. They weren't so expensive. But he wanted to get me them to make me happy and because it felt like we were on holiday and they were in funky colours and shapes. We were at the V&A! In London!

And I really don't know why I didn't just take a pair out of its packet right there and wear them straight away. Wear them home. Out to dinner. On the flight home.

Earrings in their little packets, savored, fingered, unopened. Pretty cellophane that holds inside everything that I felt on that day, so far away from home and from my life, but my life was there right with me; me and my husband and all our memories ,together, living, happy.

Just seeing the packets of earrings this week transported me back there again, feeling the same things, the same emotions. Holding hands, skipping round exhibitions, feeling free, loose and free and like there was nothing else in the world. Just him and me where I picked these earrings in sweetie colours, plastic fantastic.

Unopened packet of earrings from the V&A

And I've still never worn them. They've taken on new meaning.

Isn't life (and love) strange?