i recently had the occasion to visit Portland, Maine. a decidedly eclectic city, sitting on the water; full of great restaurants, shopping, and people watching. i had been once before for a very quick drive thru tour of Commercial Street. this time we went with a chunk of time, albeit a small chunk, to get in some pre-holiday shopping and a glance at the treasures available to the traveler not afraid to get out of the car and hoof it up and down the streets. after all was said and done, I think we determined that we didn’t arrive early enough in the day (on christmas eve many shops close at or around 2p) and we didn’t allow enough time to explore. given this lesson, we’re going back with a bit more time to enjoy the city.
on a walk back to the car, we came down a small side street which dropped us out on commercial street, in front of the portland lobster co. right in front of us was a chain link fence with many padlocks locked to it. as we crossed the street and neared the locks, i could see that there were words written on some of them and a plaque which read “Love Locks – Maine Center for Creativity”. i’ve seen this before from the backseat of a water taxi, in Paris; however, chugging along and passing by at a couple of knots is entirely different than walking right up to the locks and having the option to read, touch and feel each one.
nearly all of the locks were made by master. the kind you might find on the outside of a school or gym locker. a few required keys. some looked to be replicas of a time long since gone by. a couple had words etched. while others were embellished with a sharpie in some color from the rainbow. there were proposals and odes to beloved pets and moms. some lovers even thought to wrap the hook and lock with duct tape before writing on it.
while many of them had dates from 2013 scrawled in any available space, some were beginning to show signs of age that exposure to quite a few harsh seaside seasons has on anything and everything in its path. despite the rust and faded letters, the intent of the locks was well received. there are rumors that someone (maybe the city) will cut the locks before they rust down to nothing and fall off into the water or onto the sidewalk. despite this, people are still adding locks at a steady clip.
i, for one, am hoping that the next time i have the good fortune to be in portland, the fence will be filled with many more locks, with many more wishes of love.