What does one think when their is no time to think, only time to find safety. What can one do when they know that around them there are people who are suffering, bleeding, dying or already dead. What can one say about 127 deaths when 127 is no longer just a number, but the lives of innocent people.
I don’t want to write about the facts. I don’t want to tell you what all of the world officials said this morning. I won’t explain the details of the attacks that hit this city. I want to share my side of the night.
Time 22:30//Duration 1:20:00
I was sitting by the Eiffel Tower enjoying those shimmering lights that make my heart sing and talking about world peace with my French friend. We discussed how maybe if more people had inner peace, the world would be at ease. The night was fresh and free.
Time 23:02//Duration 1:28
“Where are you? Are you safe? There has been a terrorist attack. Two people are dead.”
My friend Caroline spoke in a low and urgent tone. I didn’t think she was joking, but I didn’t process her words. All I could do was repeat “What?” and try to form noises into words. I looked over to the friend I was with, unsure how to relay the message.
Time 23:04//Duration 0:43
I made my first call of the night repeating the words I had heard only minutes before...only with each call I made, the description of the attack changed: “Two are dead” “At least ten are dead” “Twenty-five dead and there are hostages”
Time 23:10//Duration 1:39
My host mom called. Her voice was rapid and out of breath. Her sentences were broken as she asked if I was safe. How does a mother, even a host mother, make a phone call to see if her children are alive? What about all of the mothers who made the same phone call but will never get a response.
Time 23:20//Duration 3:00
My friend found wifi for his phone and after four shaky attempts, I logged into facebook. I went straight to my sister’s page. “Mad i need you to call mom and dad right now and tell them that i am safe. Please call them right now.” I held my breath and prayed she would see it. I started to walk to find safety. I lost wifi and my only connection back home.
Time 23:22//Duration 8:00
We briskly walked towards the nearest apartment available to us. It was just next to the Eiffel Tower and, not wanting to risk being in the most touristy place in Paris, we had to go out of our way to avoid being caught in anything. Police and military flew by in wailing cars.
Time 23:33//Duration 11:59:00
I found myself in the apartment of a friend of a friend. The next few hours were spent moving from one side of the room to the other. Every 25 minutes the numbers got bigger and the calls more urgent.
“Did you understand what we said?”
The soft murmur of French had become background to me. I hadn’t understood anything that night, in fact. Too much was happening to make sense of it all.
The Eiffel Tower shut down. I once described it as a Parisian lady dancing alone in a spotlight for all the world to revere. Last night, there was no dance. There was nothing for the world to revere. Last night, the world only observed, riveted by the fight taking place in our city.
Time 11:26//Current update
I got home. I closed my front door behind me and I let out to first real deep breath I had been able to take in 12 hours. I called my host mom and then I called my real mom. I told my friends I was inside. I sat down and stared at a wall, unable to move. I made myself eat some food. Then, I began to write.
This post has taken me all day to finish. It isn’t my best post or the worst post, but it is the first post that hasn’t come easily and I wasn’t excited about. Usually when I write, the words flow out of my fingers like a bustling stream. This time, the stream was blocked by the debris of last night. I can’t write about the facts because I didn’t live them. I was safe. My friends were safe. However, not everyone was as lucky as us. How do you respond when someone says to you: “I just found out I lost my friend”. What can you say to someone when the story on the television becomes an all-too-real reality? You tell them that we will get through this. You mourn the past, but begin to narrow your focus towards the future. Paris is strong and Paris will rise up.
To the 127 lives lost, may you rest in peace.
To the injured, may your wounds heal.
To those who risked their lives in the time of need, may you wear a badge of honor.
To those who reached out to me, your love and support means more than you know.
To Parisians, may you unite despite your differences.
To the world, may we come together in support and make a change.