This was written a year ago in French, it was the day to try to put it in English…
Every year, a magical day happens in Paris. After a grey and cold winter the sun finally comes out, parkas are opened, wooly hats are taken off : it’s time to come back to life. Parisians don’t run home as they used to, their ears plugged and their scarves up ; they will rather stop for a drink with colleagues or friends, generally on a café terrace in order to enjoy the last ray of light and the new beginning. And for the first time in months, everyone has a smile on their face, waiters included. The wine sparkles with sunshine, the wooden tables and the moods are heated. This day of rebirth is the first of many to come, and is therefore well-celebrated. Even the tourists going around Paris are invited to the party, for they for once find Parisians surprinsingly nice to them. They give up their crazy race between museums and monuments to take part in this exceptional happening : Paris is smiling.
Friday, November13th, 2015 : Paris is crying, in the dark, tainted with blood, sweat and fear.
Saturday, November 14th : Paris is in a grey coma : no more cars to be heard, all the stores are closed ; the terraces and public parks are deserted, the rare and stupefied people who dare to walk the streets do so to give their blood or to light a candle, while thinking about those, unknown ot not, who are gone.
Sunday, November 15th : the sun is back, so is life. The children are out at play, parks and tourist buses are full.
Monday, November 16th : Paris awakens in a state of war.
At noon, a minute of silence strikes the brave: the ones who painfully went back to work and the ones who haven’t stopped for three days : the doctors still operating, the police still chasing after those who hit the heart of our freedom.
Paris receives love and support from all around the world, for the nostalgia for this first-day-of-spring terrace is not only ours to feel : in all threatened countries, Paris still embodied an open window of innocence, nicely blowing up hair, short skirts and long ideas. In Israel, in Turkey, in Lebanon, Paris-lovers mourn the moment of freedom they still sought for in a country not so far away. They had always hoped the City of Lights would never stop twinkling, and that a fearless lifestyle would be as engraved in Paris fashion as the nonchalant hairdoes or the die-hard smoking habit.
In countries where attacks hit daily, where fear has been tying knots in stomachs for years ; where life is only livable because one has agreed with the possibility of an unpredictable and brutal ending … People there set us up with the example to follow, as they gathered in bars or cafés to talk about what happened in their beloved city of Paris. They listened to artists, French or local, singing out their sadness ; they danced the night away, until they had forgotten about the constant threat still hanging over their heads. And finally they kissed goodbye, comforted to move on.
Now it’s our turn to act.
We now share their reality. Winter is coming, and with it the icy fear that this horror could happen again, tomorrow, the day after, in a month or a year. And that everyone of us could walk out the door for the last time.
Despite the cold and the dark, we need to get back. We can’t give to the attackers what they were looking for. We need to learn vigilance as well as the first-aid techniques, but we also need to find our quickest way back to the heated terrace, the loud concert speaker, or to the old velvet chairs sprinkled with popcorn in a crowded movie theater.
And finally, we will look at a sunset after a beautiful day, with the certainty that it is not the last one, nor the last wine glass, we’ll share.
All these moments we stand by each other, smiling like the first day of spring. That smile should still be our pride.