Minutes later I sat in front of my television watching the horrific news unfold. I was shocked and saddened but more than anything I wished to be in Paris. I wanted to be with my city.
Again I was shocked and saddened and my heart broke for Paris. And again, more than anything, I wished to be in Paris. Now living so close, I checked the Eurostar schedule hoping to find a last minute deal so I could walk the streets of my city instead of staring zombie-like at the same, devastating news coverage. I wanted to hold my city close.
I have been teased that I only see Paris through sparkly and pink-coloured glasses. My Paris is one where the Seine always glitters in the moonlight and the croissants are always warm and buttery. My Paris is long, romantic walks in the Luxembourg Gardens with stolen kisses behind palm trees and sunlit glimpses of the Eiffel Tower. I have been told on several occasions that my Paris isn't real.
When I visited Paris in April, a few months after the Charlie Hebdo shooting, I found the city somewhat changed. Subtle changes that revealed a slightly darker version of Paris where it was harder to make eye contact with strangers and a light tension could be felt on the streets. A city I have always found so welcoming and warm suddenly felt closed and careful. I smiled through the bag searches and skirted the areas that seemed overrun with armed police officers. I reclaimed my home at Le Petit Cler and spent happy hours writing and drinking sharp shots of espresso.
My blog is not about politics and I am going to leave those difficult conversations and commentary to the professionals. My blog is about Paris and my blog is about love.
Terrible things can happen anywhere. I only have to look at my family and my close friends to see that appalling, life-changing things happen with barely a whisper, much less a shower of bullets. We have a choice as to how we react to things. With my family and my close friends, I have been awed and inspired by their determination as they faced challenges and fear. Every single one of them has kept going.
Does love conquer fear?
Through my sparkly and pink-coloured glasses, I believe that love conquers fear. I believe that Paris will always be the City of Light and the City of Love. Paris will always be my city. My thoughts, my prayers, my love and my heart are with Paris and to all those affected by this terrible tragedy.
For always and forever, I'd rather be in Paris.