On locks and love and boots

It all started with the red boots. Or rather, ended with them. On the whirlwind day that was yesterday, after we had gotten off the overnight train from Florence, taken the subway, walked several blocks and up two flights of stairs to our apartment, showered, and finished packing for New York, my red boots gave up the ghost.

In the two years since I bought them, I have worn them nearly every fall, winter, or slightly overcast day. I have dressed them up or down for all occasions, and when it came to picking a pair of shoes in which to walk all over Florence for a couple days, there was no question which I would choose, even though the right zipper had been sticking and a chunk of the left sole was falling off. We tromped all over that fair city, up and down the Duomo, through museums and churches and curly alleyways. My boots made no complaint. No, they waited until I was getting ready to leave for the airport, and then that zipper went from sticking to stuck, and there was no fixing it.

Naturally, I had a nervous breakdown. The hot-faced, hiccupy, sobbing kind.

I haven't gotten used to the goodbyes yet. I'd like to take it all in stride, get perspective, absence makes the heart grow fonder and all that crap, but I never can. On a day when everything goes smoothly I can sort of, almost hold it together, but the slightest problem derails me completely. Halfway through my flight to New York I realized that my favorite black button-up shirt was still among CM's dry cleaning instead of in my suitcase. I teared up.

I don't think this is a story about shirts and shoes.

Monday morning as we rediscovered beautiful Florence, we came across these love padlocks by the Arno. I had seen and photographed some when we went to Prague, without knowing what they were, and a friend explained this lovely custom to me: couples write their names or a message on the locks and place them there to seal their love.

Isn't that beautiful? Ever since I found out what they were, I've been wishing we had locked one in Prague, and stumbling upon the ones in Florence seemed like a sign. So we kept our eye out for a store that might sell a lock, and on Tuesday we found one, and also a store selling permanent markers, and we went back to the river. We locked our lock and then we threw the keys off the Ponte Vecchio into the Arno below.

I didn't expect it to mean something, not really, but it did. It felt like a promise.

And as I was sitting in the plane yesterday, on the verge of tears, I thought of our lock, our promise to each other, and it helped. It's helping now writing about it, too.

I think we might have to start bringing a lock and a Sharpie wherever we go. Just in case.


  1. A shoemaker can fix your boots. A good pair of boots has more than one life.

  2. Okay! You got me this time! When you wrote about the love lock, the tears began. I love LOVE! Thank you for being that, you and Eric . . . . .

  3. This is my very favorite post of all time. The entire thing struck a chord. I totally feel you on the "not being good with goodbyes" thing. And the lock? That made me smile and get teary at the same time.

    I loved those boots, too. Fix em if you can. If not, there's another fabulous pair around the corner and shopping for them is half the fun. Like you alluded to - is this really about boots??

  4. Wow... I'm so glad you joined the love-lock phenom. Maybe it is best to carry locks and permanent markers to celebrate you two all over the world, you world travelers!

    And MB is right - a shoemaker can probably fix your boots. And you'll be in NYC - maybe you'll find a NEW favorite button-up.

  5. I also love the lock idea and am so glad you did it. You two make me so happy for your love.

  6. Ugh, yeah that last comment was from me. Signed in as the wrong thing.


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