In many ways, my experience of the Paris Attacks was the same as the rest of the world’s, except for the sirens. Julia and I had gone out for a nice dinner a few blocks away from our rented apartment. It was our last evening in Paris, but not our last evening together. Normally I wouldn’t need to add any clarification. I now know that the Paris Attacks were happening as we were walking back from dinner. I stopped to take a photo of a golf bag that had been converted into a planter at 9:44PM. Paris is full of surprises.
Most of the killing was already over. All I knew then was that there wasn’t the normal break between the sirens... but it was Friday night in Paris.
Back in our apartment, I saw a news piece about “Shootout at Paris Restaurant Leaves Several Dead” in my Facebook feed. This was just after 11PM. I quickly put together an email letting our families know that we were OK. Julia had just gone to bed and I thought to ask her if there was anyone I should add to the send list.
Of course shortly thereafter there was more news. Facebooks’s Safety Check feature magically popped up allowing me to notify friends that I was safe. Next came phone calls, emails and text messages. There were more sirens. When sirens equal victims they take on a deeper meaning. Twitter messages started popping up about contacting the Canadian Embassy. I sent them an email. We were as safe as we could possibly be but every noise took on meaning. It was obvious that the some Parisians were not obeying any curfew. Sleep was fitful but soon there was a bird calling and the noise of a garbage truck. It was a relief.
I am impressed how politicians, actors and musicians are able to get in front of these events. We must do more. We must do less. Stay human. Kill humans. Shows are cancelled. The show must go on.
I’m just a traveller. I did not see any blood. I heard sirens until 2AM.