After spending the entire Saturday indoors, we decided to venture outside on Sunday. It had been hard reading all of the comments, opinions, and theories on social media, watching people ride the coat-tails of Paris in order to promote their cause. I won’t get into how angry it made me feel in this particular post.
I did my hair and make-up, threw on some heels, and arm-in-arm, Anaël and I went out.
Stepping outside felt great! It was a beautiful autumn day: not too cold and sunny. Perfect biking weather!
It was a little bizarre, however, because streets were still quite silent when they should have been chaotic. I was very aware of how vulnerable it was to be outside, but onwards and forwards!
We got on our Vélibs and rode out in the direction of Vincennes, under the belly of Paris by Porte de Charenton, until the 13th arrondissement, and then entered on the quais of the Seine. We passed by Notre-Dame. It was closed, with policemen everywhere. A slap in the face and a reminder of what had happened. We pedaled past it. I tried to ignore it as a lump in my throat started forming.
Getting to Saint-Michel (which, in retrospective wasn’t the best idea ever) was almost a relief- it was packed with people walking the narrow streets. Businesses were open: little souvenir shops, restaurants, bars…
We set up camp in a terrace (because fuck you, terrorists, that’s why), ordered some pints and tried to have a normal afternoon. It was the most rebellious act we could think of for the moment.
A few moments later we were joined by a friend and the afternoon slipped into a lazy Sunday evening.
Someone was playing jazz in a corner nearby, the music wafting everywhere. People were pouring out into the streets, their pints and cigarettes in hand, conversations of all types floated around. A big sign where the outside menu of the bar used to be now said “WE ARE NOT AFRAID”.
Right as we had let our guard down, a lady on her cellphone approached us.
“Be careful!”, she said, urgently, “Something happened at BHV”.
BHV? BHV is a few blocks away, on the other side of the river.
A split second passed in which we all made eye contact and we just split.
We ran further into the heart of the neighborhood, when we realized people were casually sipping on coffees and glasses of wine. We entered another bar (you know, like how in Shrek 2 the people of Far Far Away Land run from one Starbucks to the other), sat down and began to watch the news: a stampede in République had broken out, but in the end, it was nothing.
Was this to be our life now? To be perpetually paranoid?
It’s only because it’s still fresh, I told myself. It’ll be ok. Tomorrow we will go back to work and life will go on.