Last week, on Friday the thirteenth, of November 2015, terrible attacks on the people of Paris took place.
What can I tell you about this surreal time? This time of uncertainty? Parisians are a people of resilience. They’ve recovered from many things, including terrorist attacks twenty odd years ago, and they are stepping up now. They claim they are, anyway.
I don’t really feel so brave. I grew up in the eternal sunshine of the spotless mind of southern California. Not that it was the safest place on earth, but nothing, and I mean nothing, compared to these horrific acts that have taken place in November and in 2015 in France.
I don’t much feel like going out into Paris, although I still do it when I need to. But many people fought back by defiantly sitting on the terrasse of cafes, and that’s something I can live without for the moment.
I’ve loved Paris for as long as I can remember. I’ve loved Parisian cafes for as long as that. This was an attack on things that Paris stands for. Freedom of creative expression, freedom to meet and talk and drink and flirt and hear music and cheer soccer, on a Friday night.
It really hit in the gut. I love most (not all) of those things, and they were all attacked.
And it leaves me wondering, what now? Paris has changed. Paris is not what it once was. I have always, in the fourteen years I’ve lived here, felt safe here. It’s one of the things I appreciated about this city. Petty crime has always existed, of course, but besides annoying hands on my posterior during rush hour on the metro, I’ve never felt like my safety was threatened. I certainly could never say the same thing about my home town.
But now, it will be a long while before we feel completely safe in Paris. I dream of the day. But, and this is what gives me my heavy heart today, I think that day will come long after your childhoods.
And that makes me sad. We had gang violence in my home town, but it was generally relegated to neighborhoods that could be avoided. The next ten or fifteen years will see the two of you begin to develop social lives. Still a ways off, of course, but in the not too distant future, you will be going to see shows and hear music, meeting friends for a drink on a café terrasse. All the things that make life in this city, and in general, great.
And now I think that will be tainted by fear. Certainly, I believe that my parenting style will be affected. I don’t know what I will decide when the time comes for you to take the metro into Paris by yourselves. What about school trips, vacation camps? I would like to be a brave Parisian, but I do not feel it right now. Perhaps it will come.
Your childhoods have been shifted by certain events. My mother dying very early on during my time as a mother, when Son was under two years old. This event shifted everything. I know that in a parallel universe, there exists another timeline where this didn’t happen, and where I was different as a mother, and your childhoods were experienced differently.
And this too, shifts everything.
I suppose there is nothing to do but live.