Today, for the rest of the world is New Year's Day. A time for celebration and reflection. For me, today is not only my birthday, but it is also the anniversary of Coordinates of Her°. With that, I am spending the morning reflecting back on all of the support and love I have received over the years, and I was reminded of a story that I have never shared before. It is the story of the sweetest gift I have ever been given, and it just so happened to be from my husband. Here is a little throwback to what is now, one of my favorite travel memories:
"Here we are... in Paris. I have dreamed of visiting this city for so long. It has been an incredible first day exploring and getting lost along the streets of this city. Day one, and I am already completely in love with Paris... the baguettes, the French language, the pastries, the Eiffel Tower, and now this, the love-locks bridge.
Stumbling upon the love-locks bridge, just outside of Notre-Dame Cathedral, my husband, Nick, and I immediately start to seek out a lock from a local vendor. There are plenty of tourist shops in this area, and we quickly find what we are looking for. Leaving the gift shop, I spot a sign that says "engraving." I turn to Nick and without uttering a word he nods, knowing full and well that I am loving every minute of this experience, and I plan on taking it all the way, engraving included.
We now find ourselves in a second tourist shop, attempting to engrave on the lock that we previously purchased. Unfortunately, the lock is made of a cheap material that can't be engraved. The shop owner explains to us that we will need to buy a different lock that is meant for engraving. We buy a second one and set about using the machine to engrave our new lock. We then head back to the love-lock bridge where we choose the perfect spot for our little guy. The next step up in this process is to throw the keys into the water together so that our love is "locked."
After snapping a few photos, we stand together and throw the keys into the water below finishing up our little love ceremony. I never posted any photos or shared anything about that afternoon. It was our little moment. We moved on from the day, traveling for a few more months before heading home in early fall. And, before we knew it, it was the holiday season with my birthday and the launch of COH° following soon after, and there was one small box left under the Christmas tree.
The morning of January 1, 2016, my husband said, 'I think it is time to open your last gift.' He hands me the small box, and I can tell from his face, that he is quite proud of himself for whatever is in this little box. He is beaming with excitement. Considering that one year he bought me a space heater, I'll be honest, I was a bit nervous. I was prepared to give it my best 'Oh thank you so much. You shouldn't have. Does it have a gift receipt' face.
But, as I open the box, a necklace falls out with two keys on it. One gold and one silver. The keys are medium sized, like a pendant almost, but I don't quite get the connection at the moment. I look up at Nick with a bit of a confused face. He smiles and said: 'let me explain:
Remember when you were taking photos of the locks on the love bridge in Paris? And, remember how we ended up with two locks and therefore two sets of keys? Well, we didn't actually throw the keys for the lock that we engraved over the bridge. I switched the keys and threw the original set into the water, and I kept the real set in my back pocket. I brought them back to the States with me, and I had them plated in gold and in silver so that you can always remember that day, our travels together, and how much I support you with COH°.'
I was completely surprised and taken aback by the gesture. What an unbelievably thoughtful and sweet gift. Still to this day, it is the best gift I have ever been given. And, what Nick couldn't have known at the time was that Paris later would take down the love-lock bridge due to weight and safety issues. Meaning, these keys are the last remnants that we have of that day. If we had thrown the keys into the water, then the entire experience would only be a story told in photos. Instead, it is a story I now wear proudly around my neck, and (as cheesy as it sounds), close to my heart.
Relationships aren't easy. People aren't always honest about the hard work that goes into making a long term commitment to someone else. Love is a choice. Everyday you wake up and choose each other and every night you go to bed choosing each other, only to wake up the next day to do the same all over again. Often times, it is the daily choosing that is not always easy.
Love and commitment aren't found in the signatures on the dotted lines, the jewelry on the fingers, the extravagant wedding flowers, or the endless kitchen appliances and gifts. Love is in the choice, the choosing of each other. And, while sometimes we nail it, Nick and I don't always get it right. We aren't perfect. But... this day, this memory, this gift, well it was all just simply, perfect.