It’s been three days since the gruesome terrorist attacks on Paris, and while the news of what happened has finally sunk in, I’m still in shock. I wanted to write something sooner—because Paris is so dear and close to my heart—but I didn’t know how to begin. Even now I don’t really know what to say. As my best friend Katy said, Paris was a haven to us after September 11th (we lived there during the fall of 2001). We arrived in the city on Monday, September 10th, and the next day the attacks occurred. That Friday, my other best friend Caroline and I did something so outside of ourselves and our preconceptions of Parisian life: we went to a mosque. More specifically, we went to a Turkish bath, a hamman tucked away within the famous Grande Mosque of Paris on the city’s left bank, where we stripped ourselves naked and skittered from one pool to the next, before a pair of hefty Turkish women descended on our vulnerable, anxious bodies and scoured us senseless. They wore abrasive, jute-like mitts and scraped us front and back, stripping our skin of its top layer to reveal our glistening, and pink new selves. We were terrified, but we were terrified before we walked in there. And that was the point: We were already in a foreign land, but we almost needed to do something even more so. Something even more foreign to France, the lives we had envisioned for ourselves while living there, and something completely beyond our sense of control to feel like everything was going to be ok.
Everything is going to be ok.
When something happens to my friends and loved ones (and this includes two cities: New York and Paris), I have an overwhelming urge to be where they are. If my ship is going down, I want to be on it. If my loved ones are suffering, I want to absorb some of that pain and feel a part of it too. Paris isn't going down. It will be ok, but that doesn't lessen my yearning to be there. And so I'll go.
Paris, je t’aime. Et a bientot.