Last night I left school and the 10th arrondissement around 19.30, feeling a bit down and only longing for a quiet night in. By night the area around the school in the 10th and especially around Gare du Nord is a bit scary so I hurried home bundling up in my scarf. The weather was not behaving well, rough winds were blowing and I told Oscar on the phone that a storm was brewing. I came home, had some dinner and around 21.20 a fellow student at PCA messaged a study group telling us "There are shootings in town around the 10th. Make sure to stay safe if you go out tonight."
At first I thought it was gang related violence, but when I started checking other social media and the news reporting of the attacks, only growing in numbers, it was clear that this was something else. The awful and spine chilling word terrorists was circulating.
We barricaded ourselves inside, messaged everyone we know and frantically kept up with all the news outlets possible. The feeling of helplessness when watching the live broadcast with people who's lives had been torned apart, or hearing the witnesses' reports was unbearable and suddenly I got a little glimpse of how living in the midst of a war would be. Horrible, to say the least. I fell asleep around 2.30 am to the sound of sirens and helicopters hovering the city.
Today has not been much better, reports of the attacks and mourning people have flooded the feed. I saw three policemen checking the doors to the apartments across the street, heavily armed and talking to each others in walkie talkies. As a Swede, coming from a country that has been at peace for 200 years this is quite shocking. I went out for some food shopping earlier and I felt a twinge of fear. The area close to Sacre Coeur is usually high security and I met several police vehicles flashing blue lights while kids were playing in the street and blowing soap bubbles. The contrast was striking.
I've tried to understand why this would happen to Paris, or why anyone - in any name, would want to cause harm to innocent people. But I seriously cannot bend my head around it. From what it seems now these terrorists attacked Paris because of it being a symbol of our western civilization. And for being a city of love. And that, together with them harming innocent people unable to defend themselves makes me so angry. And it makes me love this city even more. There is no way I will remain afraid, like the kids in the street blowing soap bubbles I will go back to doing what they hated about this city. Love, laugh, dance and drink champagne in the honor of those who lost their lives. Love will conquer, as always.
And just so you now Paris - Je t'aime, and it's forever.