Je t’aime Paris


It is with a very heavy heart that I am blogging.

The terrorist attacks in Paris threw me over the barrel.

It was a strange, sad, anxiety filled day at work, the family got some bad news and I did my best to be of service and help and I know I was, but it was stressful.

And.

Then suddenly.

The news.

The shock of hearing and seeing the photographs.

And the absolute inability to do anything other than reach out to a few people, let them know I was, I am, thinking of them.

Friends in Paris.

Fellows in Paris.

There’s nothing I can do and this is not about me.

I remind myself to focus on what I can do.

But there was still sadness in the air.

Melancholia that broke over me like waves.

Reminding me of when I was in Madison and the morning of 9/11 and all the streets so empty and still.

I had not turned on the radio and I didn’t own a television.

It was like the Martians had landed and wiped out the entire city.

I couldn’t figure out what was wrong or why there were no cars on the road.

Or why, when I got to campus, there was no one on the streets.

I finally found out what was happening when I stepped into my coffee shop, Espresso Royale, on my way to my first morning class.

And even after being told, it was so surreal and so shocking that it didn’t set in.

I still went to class.

There were two other students there and a very distraught TA who sent us home.

I didn’t know where to go.

So I went to the bar.

Where I worked.

I walked through the empty restaurant and the bar, waved to the opening bartender who was transfixed to the television mindlessly polishing glasses.

“Are we going to close today?”  He asked.

I didn’t know.

It was my day off.

I wasn’t working.

I told him I didn’t know and would find out.

The bar didn’t close.

Bars don’t typically when disaster strikes, people, in my experience, like to come around together and nurse a beverage and huddle together.

I had a friend visiting from out-of-town.

Boston.

And she was at a mutual friends.

I knew she must be frantic.

Her mother flew for one of the airlines that was used in the attacks.

I got to our mutual friends house, astounded to see on the most delicious, the most perfect of autumn days, the ultimate Indian Summer day, temperatures in the high 70s and not a cloud in the sky, that James Madison park was empty.

EMPTY.

That shoved it home for me.

I had never seen James Madison empty.

Ever.

Let alone on the most beautiful day of the year.

I found my friends glued to the television.

My visiting friend had not managed to locate her mother who was on a scheduled flight to DC and was beyond frantic with panic.

We would find out that she was safe, but it took hours.

It took hours, days, to locate friends and family.

The efficacy of the internet amazes me.

Facebook in particular.

Hats off.

I am not always the biggest proponent of social media, but I am over the moon at the Facebook Safety Attack.

All my friends, 26, checked in safe and secure.

Just got the last check in a few minutes ago and just breathed.

Like really took a deep breath.

Paris terror attacks.

I still can’t quite fathom it.

It’s not my place to understand.

And I am not going to make political statements.

That’s not how I roll.

Horrified at the anger and strife and killing.

The pain and misery that we as humans can wrought upon each other.

But.

If I dwell in that.

If I don’t lift my head and go about my life.

If I wallow in that morass of pity and amelioration I will never get out of it.

And I am only effective in my community when I am present.

Accounted for.

Relied upon.

Committed.

I’m all in.

So.

I don’t know how to say.

I am sad.

I am grieved.

I am heartbroken for that beautiful city of lights.

And in the face of it.

I will march forward and do the best I can.

To be the best person I can.

“You work harder than anyone I know,” he said and patted me on the arm.

I was surprised to hear him say that.

I was taken a little aback, but I was also complimented too, when he told me that last night underneath the heating lamps on the outdoor patio at Cafe Flore on Market Street.

Maybe.

It’s just the way I know how to love and give back and I must.

I have been given so much.

I really have.

I try to give it back.

To play it forward.

To love as much as possible.

To be kind.

To be compassionate.

Tolerant.

Patient.

Mostly with myself.

I don’t often succeed.

These are lofty principles.

But.

I try.

And when I am struck dumb with sadness and horror.

I turn back to the simple principles I have been taught and look around me to see where I can best be of service.

How can I do the best in the moment.

Right now.

Right here.

Forgive myself for being an asshole.

Love myself.

Love my friends.

Stay in touch with people.

Let myself be sad.

From heartbreak comes strength and deeper reserves of love.

At least that is what I wish for myself in this moment of reflection.

Love.

Light.

Resolution.

For my friends.

For the families.

For all those sick and suffering.

Here and abroad.

My heart is open.

And though it may not have much of a mark in the overall scheme of things.

It’s the best I have.

I love you Paris.

My heart to you.

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