Paris-maybe dim but lights not out

Darkness came to the city of light Friday, November 13, a night that will live in Paris infamy. Darkness in the form of death and injury to hundreds enjoying a rock concert; death to people of all nationalities living Parisian life on a balmy French fall evening; death at a soccer game, death and injury, death, death, death.

After an early dinner with my husband Jim at a favorite Thai restaurant in the 5th arrondissement where we live, we oohed and ahhed at the holiday lights on Rue Mouffetard then returned home to watch reruns of NCIS on French television. I retired to bed at 10 p.m. Unlike our former experience in St. Petersburg, Florida, French television channels do not present emergency alertĀ overrides. Alas, I do not go to bed with a handheld communication device clutched in my hand or strapped to my chest. So when Jim brought me the telephone at 11, I knew nothing of the attacks. A Toronto radio station wanted me to do an interview, no fee involved mind you, just my voice report. I know nothing I told the producer after she said terrible things were happening in Paris, call me back.

Wide awake I stayed up until 3am,shocked and glued to newschannel France 24 and CNN. Saturday we gratefully received many emails and calls from friends and family from the shores of California to Italy. I called my friend Vcky in the 11th arrondissment. Formerly of Denver she lives with her French husband Alain in a lovely flat not from the crime scenes and a hospital. They heard sirens until 4 30am on Saturday morning. Vicky lived near Littleton, Colorado when the horrific Colombine massacre happened. She drove to Littleton that night, witnessed cars covered in flowers, and saw grieving people of all ages walking the neighborhood streets with stunned faces. She said she witnessed the same reactions Saturday on Paris boulevards, stuuned “how did this happen here?” reactions.Then I heard about my French friend Lucia’s son. He was at the rock concert, escaping when French police stormed the building. He was treated by the French Red Cross at the scene, then taken to the Hotel de Ville, Paris’ city hall, to be registered as a victim of terrorism.

I shared their stories in an interview with the Toronto radio station on Saturday night. I no longer do many interviews for media outlets. The declining print industry has little money or space for free-lance writers. My skills do not include producing video reports with our smart phone or texting stories. I write on a computer keyboard with a flat ccreen, soon to be as obsolete I suppose as an IBM electric typewriter or a fax machine.

Meanwhile I have not been to this blog page in a year, bemoaning that I had nothing of substance to say. Alas, now I do, can write as long as I want to, and say what I please.

We have called Paris home for ten years and recently received our ten-year residence card on which we are no longer noted as visitors. Of course we are still US citizens, not legally citizens of France.Should we pack our tent and leave I asked Jim in Friday night’s aftermath. No,this is our home, was his reply. To paraphrase writer Gertrude Stein,America is our country, Paris is our hometown.

Finally, a possible offensive alert- beware and please read before some of you run for the comfort of Fox news. We are appalled by the USA violence fueled by too many guns and a gun worshipping culture; anti-semitism with a swastica drawn in feces on a college dormitory wall; and domestic terrorists running wild in a country we used to call home. I reported to the Toronto radio station that Parisians, akin to hurricane shoppers in the US, were stocking up on wine, water and chips Saturday. Anger, shock and pain are on faces and in the air. People here like to gather together to mourn, and debate, including the elephant in the living room issue, what has been the role of the US, Britain, and other countries in creating Isis. That’s another thing we like about Paris, a town where diverse people can gather in cafes or apartments to debate issues like we baby boomers did in the 1960′s and 1970′s, with the right to disagree without a gun or knife terminating in an argument. Cigarette and marijuana smokeĀ do not permeate these indoor gatherings. Sparkling water and soft drinks are served to non drinkers. Jim and I cry and yell with our friends and deplore the violent world.
Now it is Sunday, horror and tears continue to set in. We are all shell-shocked, holding the dead and injured in our prayers and hearts, determined to stand together with the people of our hometown in solidarity,strength, light and resolve.

 

 

 

 

Leave a Reply