It’s Christmas and the first time we spend our holidays in the tropics without family. Normally around this time of the year I visit my friends and family in Paris. I wonder how life goes on after what happened on Friday November the 13th.
In the newspapers I read that soldiers patrol the almost deserted Christmas market I used to enjoy walking around, watching the colorful decorations. This year people prefer to stay at home because they are scared the market could be a target of attack. For three weeks there were no tourists at all and a lot fewer French people than normal. But slowly it begins to pick up.
‘Walking through the streets of Paris doesn’t feel like Christmas‘, says one of my friends who still lives in Paris. People are gathering around memorials day by day to comfort each other. With the Christmas thought in mind, being together and stand by each other feels during this time of the year even more important.
‘Crossing place de la République anytime during the day or night there are people here to show their compassion, reading the messages written on the cards and lighting up candles for the ones we lost. The crowds keep coming.’
My friend sent me pictures when he crossed one of the scenes of the attack. For a moment I stood still. I saw the memorial in between the Christmas trees that are sold. Our hearts go out to all the families whose holiday this year will be different.
Not only in Paris but all over the world people are victim of terrorist attacks and have to go on with their life after losing beloved ones. I am lucky I never had to face such a horrible event. But this time it happened in a neighborhood where I used to live. I remember walking in the 11th arrondisement every day and couldn’t believe that Friday the 13th of November this area turned into a massacre. If this had happened just a few years ago, me or my friends could have been inside. The realization that this can happen, just like that is crazy. But this is reality. This is the world we now live in. That’s why I am especially sure we have to live life to the fullest and keep chasing our dreams. I think a lot about my friends, family and all other Parisians wondering how they go on with their normal life feeling not safe anymore.
‘We try to live our life like we used to but it won’t be the same again. Yes we go out to bars, cafés and sit on the terrace but not without questioning ourselves where we have the least chance to be attacked. More then ever I try to escape from crowded places.’
People in Paris are trying to live a normal life, because life must go on, but the differences are noticeable everywhere.
‘Going into any shop your bags are searched, even in Monoprix. People wonder what the security will do if someone does have a weapon. The type of incident isn’t one that can be prevented by rent-a-cop type of security men. Everyone is aware of this. Having security everywhere especially reminds us that we aren’t safe.’
Being 10.000 km away I wonder, will Paris always be Paris? The city of love stories, history, poets, artist and memories I cherish. The city I always want to return to and still do. Thinking about my short life in Paris makes me smile. Having a pick nick with friends in the world’s most beautiful parks, eating the best steak tartare on a bistro terrace in Le Marais, drinking champagne along the Seine, cycling under the enlightened Eiffel Tower by night and having apéro at Canal Saint Martin. I am glad to hear one of my Dutch friends went to visit Paris one week after the attack. She told me all the restaurants were full of people. While she was having dinner, something unusual happened around 11 p.m.. ‘The music was turned up and everybody started dancing. They were celebrating life.’ And that’s how I remember Paris.
‘joie de vivre’