I don’t know if I have the right to feel how I am feeling. I was there, yes, but not close to where the attacks took place. We were in Les Halles when everything kicked off. In an Irish pub (story of my life) I got a BBC news alert telling me there had been a shooting in Paris. David and I sort of shrugged it off as maybe a lone gunman or whatever. We even joked that no-one would be in touch to see if we were okay cos it was Friday night and everyone was out getting wrecked. Watching the Ireland/Bosnia match (terrible fog, even worse game), I went to post on Facebook that the owner had given me free Guinness due to my Irish heritage only to discover my phone had died. I thought nothing of it, happens all the time. I sat and watched the game, eating my Taytos and drinking my Guinness. David was watching the France/Germany game. We had a bit of an argument about stopping out for ‘just one more’ (those who know me know full well it’s never ‘just one more’). David wanted to go back nearer to our hotel in Montrouge as we weren’t too familiar with the centre of Paris he’d feel safer nearer to where we were staying. We got the Metro and popped into a restaurant/café/bar nearer to our hotel for a last drink. Both phones were now dead, so we had to resort to talking to one another… Imagine that.
Glancing at the TV in the bar, the news was on. Everything looked a hell of a lot worse that we could have imagined, there were scenes from the France/Germany game, and a number that seemed to be rising all the time. We drank up as quickly as we could, and briskly walked back to the hotel, passing several police cars and ambulances, their sirens wailing in the dark night. We arrived to the hotel, plugged in our phones where they both promptly exploded with texts, emails, Facebook messages and voicemails, one in particular from my mother sounding severely distressed shouting in the background to my dad ‘She isn’t picking up her phone…’ We checked the BBC news website to see the full atrocity that had been committed in Paris that night, people out celebrating, just having a Friday out at a restaurant or a football match, or a gig attacked for no good reason. Murder and rampage; Panic on the streets of Paris. Obviously we got in touch with everyone and let them know we were okay. Hundreds of people, people I don’t even know that well, just concerned that we were alive and safe. It was overwhelming and we felt guilty for having that little joke earlier on. I spoke to my dad and I’ve never heard so much relief in a single person’s voice. Turns out he, along with Tom and Fran and others had phoned the bar we had been at to check we were okay. We watched the French news in complete shock. There was a state of emergency in France. We were due to travel home on Saturday, what if we couldn’t?
Well, as you all know, we got back safe and sound having spent the ENTIRE day at Charles De Gaulle airport (just as boring as you think it would be). We’d intended spending our last day in Paris seeing things we hadn’t seen like the Arc de Triomphe and walking down the Champs-Élysées but it seemed safer to just go straight to CDG. An uneventful tube ride from Heathrow to Euston and then a cab from Coventry station to Pie Bash and things seemed right and okay with the world again. But I think that with the adrenaline of getting out of Paris and back home to Coventry had got me through, because on Sunday evening, the tears started and they’ve been on and off ever since.
The tears are a mixture of sadness, fear, rage and guilt. Sadness because of the sheer loss of human life and devastation to so many families and to Paris herself; the fear has literally just hit me over the past few days; anger manifests itself in the question of why the fuck did these cunts think it was okay to attack and kill innocents? And the guilt? The guilt is that I lived but many others didn’t. There should be 129 more living breathing beautiful humans on this planet but there aren’t because murderous cunts stole their lives.
It’s been odd seeing the reactions to what happened in Paris on Friday 13th: such sympathy and solidarity with the French populous, the simple act of changing one’s Facebook profile picture so it is the colour of the tricolore has been derided by many as slacktivism but fuck that, people have a fucking choice to change their FB photo just like those who didn’t change theirs (myself included) also had that choice. It’s a sign of solidarity so take your derision and shove it right up your arse. I am also very much aware of other atrocities that took and continue to take place and I am able to feel sadness for all of those things. I am expressing myself about Paris because I was there, so it kinda hit me a little harder.
I’m not entirely sure what the point of this blog piece is, truth be told. Probably catharsis, most likely. I started back at work today and was dreading it because I was expecting the third degree about the whole thing; I was in tears last night when I was trying to go to sleep because I didn’t want to have to talk about it to anyone at work. Thankfully, save for one person*, they’ve all been fine when I said I didn’t want to talk about.
I just can’t help but feel though that it isn’t right for me to cry, to have this grief or whatever it is. I wasn’t directly affected, other than being in the city when it happened… I don’t know… I didn’t lose anyone, I didn’t get shot at, I wasn’t near an explosion… why do I feel this way? It can’t just be because I’m a caring individual, David is a caring person and he hasn’t reacted this way… it’s caused me to take a break from one of my volunteering posts because if I’m in this state, I can’t think about being there for someone else completely.
This is the end…I’ve sort of tailed off… my mind isn’t in its usual (just about) working order. Oh, and may thanks to Carl for the call this morning…I’m sorry you had to hear me cry.
*Me: I don’t want to talk about it
Them: Oh why, how close were you to it all?
Me: Not that close but…Excuse me *rushes to bathroom to cry*