I’ve realized something over the last week. People here think of Paris as a woman -a beautiful woman. And it feels more like someone attacked a friend of ours than a city. They harmed her, and we grieve for her. It’s personal for us. But we’re working our way through it.
You know, when something terrible happens (a death in the family, any tragedy, really) initially, there’s a huge wave of sympathy, of love and attention. There are phone calls, emails, notes and messages of support. And then after a while, all of that stops, and you realize that you are alone in this thing that you are facing. You must work your way through the gauntlet of loss and anger, fear and depression, before you can come out the other side.
I think it’s good that you have to process this stuff by yourself. It’s a hero’s journey. And because it’s so difficult, it makes you realize that you are stronger than you think. It makes you aware that you are smarter, braver, more powerful than you thought you were. You come to the realization that this tragedy doesn’t define who you are. You realize that you’re bigger than that. You find your new normal, and adjust to it.
We’re still gun-shy here. Sirens make us cringe even now. And I think it’s safe to say that all of us are still jumpy and a little depressed. But, we’re walking our way through all of these feelings, and we know we’ll make it to the other side.
Paris is still Paris. She is still beautiful…and charming and special. The Christmas bazaars all are open again. Lights are twinkling all over the city. People are coming out more – stepping back into the world. The streets aren’t nearly as deserted as they once were. Now, when you go out in the evening, it feels like a lovely, quiet night, instead of a ghost town. And I’ve noticed that people here seem softer and more gentle with each other. When our eyes connect, there’s an extra moment of recognition for what we’ve been through. We appreciate each other more.
There’s this cashier-lady at Monoprix who always says hello to me. She wasn’t at work after the attacks, not Saturday or Sunday or Monday. In fact, I didn’t see her until Wednesday of last week. By then, I was very afraid that something had happened to her or someone she loved. When I walked in to the store on Wednesday, she came around the counter to hug me and give me two kisses as only the French can. I told her that I was so grateful that she was alright, and she said the same of me.
The attack on Paris made people here feel more connected to each other. When we pass on the street, there’s a common experience that binds us together. We are united in our grief and sadness for those we lost and for what Paris lost. We love her and we grieve for her, our beautiful city of light. For us, it’s personal.