You never think it will happen where you live. You never think you are no longer safe. Somehow, a terrorist attack happened in my beautiful city. My home.
I was born in Paris in a beautiful apartment across from Notre Dame, I learned to speak and walk in this city and I moved back to Paris away from all my family this January. I left everything and everyone for Paris. I never thought I would not be safe.
There was an attack on January 7th, 2015 on a satire newspaper but this attack on Friday, November 13th was different. These monsters hurt innocent people for pure hatred. A gunman opened fire outside of two restaurants. He fired through the window at people who were eating, socializing and drinking. Outside of a soccer stadium during a soccer game there was an explosion, where two suicide bombers detonated their device. One of them tried to enter the stadium but was stopped when guards discovered his suicide belt. At another restaurant 18 people were shot dead and lastly, during a concert, two gunmen opened fire and took hostages and when the police arrived, they blew themselves up. 129 died and more than 300 people were wounded. This was a massacre. I saw on the news the stories and read about how people survived. It has broken my heart.
Two of the kids I nannied last semester were at their father’s who lives in the building right next to the concert hall. Their windows faced the shootings. Their father hid them in the bathroom all night for their safety, but they could still hear everything. They will never forget this day for the rest of the life. They will remember the gunshots and the screams.
This whole situation affected me to my core and all my beliefs shattered. Paris is my home and I am scared for my life now. It has almost been a week since it happened and my heart is broken. I did not lose any friends, but my city is mourning everyone who lost their lives and those families who lost their loved ones. I was almost one of those people who could have lost their life.
One of the restaurants attacked that night was called, “Le Petit Cambodge”. It is in the 10th arrondissement and I was supposed to have dinner with a friend and living a regular Parisian Friday night, but I canceled because I had a headache. That headache saved my life and my friends life. I remember getting the call from my best friend that night who I have known since I was three. We met in Maternelle in this very city. I picked up the phone and his voice was in a panic. He asked me if I had gone to the restaurant? I said no and he cried of joy. I asked what was wrong? He said there had been attacks in Paris and one of them was the restaurant. I told him I was fine and I was safe. He said to me to stay where I was. I turned on the tv to see the news and I could not believe what was happening. This had to be a nightmare and I would wake up and everything would be fine.
Within seconds of hanging up the phone with my friend, I was getting calls, text messages and my facebook was getting flooded with people asking me if I was okay. Friends that I do not talk to often checked on me to make sure I was safe. This was crazy and I was getting even more scared by the second. My brother told me to post on facebook that I was safe which I did, but there was also a notification from facebook which could mark me as safe. All my friends in Paris were marked safe and I contacted everyone else that I did not see on facebook.
I stayed home all of Saturday. I was too scared. I did not even walk my dog. I had her use the shower as her bathroom. I finally went out on Sunday night with my dog to get some food and my friend came over and we talked about what we thought life in Paris is going to be like after this. We are both scared. These past days, having to leave my house to go to school has been a struggle. I keep thinking there will be another attack. Going out everything seems okay, but something in the air is dark and gloomy. On my busy street where I live, there are four police vans and people are checking bags before entering stores, but I am still on edge.
On Monday, we had a moment of Silence at noon. I woke up early and I went to Place de la Republique. It is a square in Paris, on the border between the 3rd, 1oth and 11th arrondissements. It is named after the French Republic. At the center of the Place de la République is a bronze statue of Marianne who is the personification of the French Republic. The statue of Marianne is holding an olive branch and resting her left hand on a tablet engraved with Droits de l’homme which is the rights of men. Marianne is surrounded with three statutes personifying liberty, equality and fraternity which are the values of the French Republic. At the Place de la Republique, there were flowers everywhere, candles, signs, and art work. One thing that stood out was a sign that said “meme pas peur” which in french means “not even afraid” which gave me hope and strength.
My school had a moment of silence as well and the president of France went there for the moment of silence. My school is very famous. They had the moment of silence and then sang La Marseillaise which is our national anthem. I was not there, but it was on the news.
I visited some of the places that were attacked. I saw the bullet holes and I am so grateful that I had a headache because my life could have ended that night just like 129 others did. It puts your life into perspective.
For the moment of Silence, I went to the restaurant I always went to and almost did that night. The moment of silence was beautiful and painful. You could feel the pain of everyone around. No one said anything for more than a minute. There were people everywhere. No cars could get through. It felt like everyone was there. The terrorists tried to hurt us and we remained united. Seeing us all together and not letting the terrorist make us hide made me cry. I am proud to be French and proud to be from Paris.
France has always been about happiness. “La joie de vie” which in English means the joy of life. There are those small things that make the french happy. The smell of coffee, fresh buttery delicious croissant in the morning, men looking at beautiful woman and flirting, the smell of warm bread, having some wine with friends, the smell of perfume, woman looking beautiful and classy or doing anything that makes us happy. No one does life on earth better than us, the french. They tried to take that away from us. They tried to take away the simple things we love about our lives.
France is my country. The French flag is my flag. On this day of national and international solidarity, it does not mean nationalism confined to the narrow view, but it represents all the values that I recognize and have to live and radiate. It is time that this flag and our colors proudly bloom again in our homes, our windows, our gardens and our hearts without fear of fascist recovery. I am proud of being French.