Paris: Two Weeks Later

I went to a great concert on Saturday. That may not seem like a big deal to you but it was to me because I live in Paris and it’s been just two weeks since the city was shaken to its core by horrible terrorist attacks. Many people I know have been reluctant to hit the streets as they usually would in response to what happened. I have been one of them.

While the Eiffel Tower is no longer covered in red white and blue and conversation has shifted from terrorism to private sales and climate change, there’s still something different in the air. I notice it when I jog next to the Seine in the afternoon and when I go to the supermarket to get fruit.

Like I said though, I went out.

I went out regardless of the fact that I’ve been walking home past the Champ de Mars a little faster than before and no longer feel 100% comfortable riding the metro during peak hours.

I went out although I know my mother and my brother would both strongly disapprove of my choice to do so and I usually consider their wishes when making decisions that require second thought.

I went out to an Asian restaurant just a block away from Le Petit Cambodge where regardless of the beautiful conversation I was having over some delicious pho, I couldn’t help but breathe a sigh of relief when I noticed a big guy was sitting behind me because my back was facing the glass door/windows and I felt safer that way.

I went out to a small concert hall, not too different from the Bataclan where in the event of an emergency it’s doubtful that I’d be able to get out easily and that made me a bit nervous... I’d told my boyfriend that I would stand next to the emergency exit.

Most who know me would say my fears are justified. I grew up in Colombia during a time where acts of terrorism were a common occurrence in my native Bogotá. The 80’s and 90’s were after all a dark period for my country. Family friends were kidnapped, planes were bombed out of the sky, murders littered the papers daily. I remember my uncle’s friend being killed on the side of the road coming home from a hunting trip with his girlfriend. Living in fear became pretty normal.

I’m also a product of a generation old enough to remember the world pre-9/11 but young enough to have been just in high school when the towers went down. I was also too young to be able to discern just how much the world would change that day...

Fast forward fourteen years and I am now old enough to understand the politics of terrorism and I can understand things I didn’t when I was younger. I also understand that statistically speaking I stand a better chance of dying trying to move my sofa than I do by terrorist attack. Rationally speaking, I knew I had nothing to worry about.

That, however, didn’t make my decision to go out any easier. I feel silly saying it but it’s true.

So why did I go out?

I went out because I chose to take a stance for joy.

I went out because this is France and living is what the French do best and here, life doesn’t just mean get up, go to work, watch tv, go to sleep, rinse and repeat tomorrow.

I went out because as ridiculous as it may sound after barely three months, I already feel part Parisian. I know many expats here who feel the same way. This city has a remarkable ability to take residence in your heart quickly.

I went out because Bob Moses needed to be heard, girl talk needed to be had, and my friend’s engagement needed to be fussed over. My friend Nico was also in town and we needed to catch up.

I went out because it was Saturday and I live in the most beautiful city in the world and that’s cause enough for celebration.

Not only did I go out, I didn’t stand next to the exit. After just three minutes inside, I went into the middle of the crowd, closed my eyes, I danced my heart out for 2 hours, and felt grateful that when I opened them and looked around, I saw everybody else doing the same.

I went out because I had to. Because I spend my days helping people conquer their fears and I refuse to let this, the most beautiful chapter of my life so far, be defined by it. I have too much to celebrate and look forward to to focus on thoughts that aren’t going to help me move forward and build my future.

The lesson?

Fear begets more fear. More fear is the fuel of communication breakdowns and misunderstandings.

The thing about fear is she doesn’t always show up at your door step wearing flashing lights and screaming into a megaphone--she’s not always the most obvious of visitors... Perhaps that’s why she can be so damn hard to get rid of.

After this weekend, I can’t deny the fact that she’s there.  She may have come in through the window and invited herself over for tea, but she’s most definitely not staying for dinner. I have Christmas trees to buy, weddings to attend, friends to see, and a company to keep building.

Life is good and I have every intention of it staying that way.


('Tearing Me Up' is one of my favorite songs off of the new Bob Moses album. They were the band I went to see this weekend. I dare you to listen and not dance!)