Coincidences… what are they? Are they just pure randomness, or is the word just used as an excuse to explain situations that are obviously predestined. I don’t believe in coincidences. I feel like some instances are just too extraordinary to be explained as just pure chance. There is too much beauty in “coincidences” to just look past them.
Musselburgh, Scotland is a small town outside of Edinburgh that not many tourists venture to on purpose. However, I was no longer a tourist; I was a local. As a study abroad student staying in the town of Dalkeith, I was excited to explore neighboring towns, especially those located on the coast. I was beginning to miss my college town of Corpus Christi and its sunny beaches, so one day, I hopped on a bus to the nearest beach. Musselburgh instantly reminded me so much of Corpus Christi. The skate park, the sand, and the small boats docked at the bay. I loved exploring alone, because that meant the day was mine and I could make all my own decisions.
As I happened to aimlessly walk across a pedestrian bridge, I immediately noticed the lovelocks sparsely placed all throughout the bridge. It wasn’t like Paris, but that’s what made it interesting. Paris is the city of love, but what is Musselburgh to these people? You obviously have to have a story with the town in order to make the decision of placing a lovelock on the bridge, and that’s what made it special. I fell in love with the town and wanted to commemorate this love with a lovelock to represent me and my boyfriend. My heart was ripped in half the day I left the States. We had only begun dating a few weeks prior to my departure, and I wanted nothing more than to be back in his arms. So, in order to get my mind off of the heartache of being in a long-distance relationship, I would run around foreign towns looking for things to do.
I was on a time crunch trying to find a lock, because the last bus going back to Dalkeith would leave in an hour. I scoured the town stopping at every grocery store looking for a lock, any lock. I finally found one in a little dollar store. I decided on a pink padlock and rushed to the school supplies aisle to find a black sharpie to “engrave” our names. I also bought scissors, because I knew I wouldn’t be able to open the plastic packaging the lock was in. I made my purchase and stopped in a local public restroom to open up the lock and write our names.
As I opened the packaging with the scissors, I was in such a hurry that I sliced my finger and got blood all over the lock. “Now that’s true love,” I thought. I had accidentally preformed a blood ritual on the lock — now our love would have to last forever.
I hastily made my way to the pedestrian bridge and looked for the perfect spot to place the lock. I wanted to leave room next to the lock so that one day we could place another lock on the bridge. After placing the lock, I decided on burying one of the three keys it came with near a bench. I planned on sending one key to my boyfriend and keeping the last one for myself. I quickly made my way to the bus station and hopped on the bus, happy with my adventure.
Fast forward to August 4, 2017, and my study abroad trip had finally come to an end. I made my way down the airport escalator and was warmly embraced by my boyfriend. We made a baby that night — I’m not kidding! We were excited and scared at the same time because we were both in our senior year of college, but we made ends meet.
Once February came along, I was trying hard to think of something special to give to my now fiancé. One day, the thought popped into my head. I could get him a lovelock with our baby’s name on it. We had always talked about returning to Scotland so I could show him all the special places I had been. I thought maybe one day we could put this lock on the bridge together. After a quick search on Etsy, I found one that we could even put our baby’s ultrasound picture on. It was absolutely perfect. On Valentine’s Day, he opened his gift and loved it. Alongside a heart-shaped box of chicken nuggets, what more could he ask for?
Mike was going to be the best dad, I knew it. When Maxon was finally born, he needed a few blood transfusions and had to spend sometime in the NICU. It was a difficult time for us, because we had such a traumatic birth experience. However, the NICU nurses were wonderful in assuring us that everything was going to be fine.
On one occasion, we met the head nurse and her accent immediately sounded so familiar to me. I asked her where she was from, and she told me she had lived a lot of places, including Scotland. I was so excited to talk with her over the wonders of Scotland’s beauty and the discussion eventually led to me describing the lock I had given Mike. I told her how much we wanted to go back one day to place Maxon’s lock next to ours. As it would turn out, she was going to be leaving to London the following week and would be meeting with a friend who lives in Scotland. She graciously offered to take the lock with her and pass it on to her friend who could get it to the bridge. I was hesitant — it sounded to good to be true! But then I thought, how could this be just a coincidence? I felt like she was meant to be a part of our story, so I decided to let her take the lock with her across the sea to be handed over to a complete stranger.
A few months passed, with no update on the lock. Maxon was safe at home with us and doing great, when one day we received pictures confirming that our lock had made it to the Musselburgh pedestrian bridge. I had left her instructions with how to get to the bridge and where to place the lock. Our pink lock had rusted quite a bit, as expected with Scotland’s rainy weather. But just seeing our lock still there alongside our son’s lock brought tears to my eyes. It was beautiful to see how the world is so interconnected and how far a complete stranger will go for someone.
The story doesn’t end there. When we got married the year after our son was born, I purchased another lock off Etsy as my “something blue” for the wedding and wore it all day on my garter. We had found dirt cheap tickets to Scotland for our honeymoon and were excited to put our third lock on the bridge. During our stay in Scotland, we got to stay in the same palace I stayed in while I studied abroad in Dalkeith.
As fate would have it, we even got assigned the same room I stayed in while studying there. It was amazing, to say the least, to sleep in the same bed, but this time with my husband who I had missed so much while there. When the day finally came to visit Musselburgh, we were so excited and a little nervous the locks might not still be there. It had been one year since Maxon’s lock was placed on the bridge and two years since our lock had been placed there while I was studying abroad.
I had heard of lovelock bridges being cleared out before, so I was definitely worried. We made our way down to Musselburgh on the same bus route I had taken years ago, and to our excitement, our locks were still there, perfectly intact. Our third lock went up alongside our two other locks, and this time, we threw the key in the water. We figured our love would last a lifetime, so why keep the key? Our family story is now told on locks in the small town of Musselburgh, and as our story continues, we hope to keep adding to this beautiful, Scottish bridge.