Paris Je t’aime

tricolor flag. Plateau St. Laurent. Photo Rachel Levine tricolor flag. Plateau St. Laurent. Photo Rachel Levine

I am a Parisian. I am French, young, sad and afraid for my loved ones. I am saddened by all the useless taking of lives. I am disgusted by fanaticism. I am afraid of what will come. I am not a reporter. I have no diploma that makes me a journalist, but I am a citizen of the world and someone who just saw her city being taken by hate. And as such, I feel a need to write, speak up, deliver messages of hope. I am nothing more than you, nothing less than someone else. I am just a human being, whose heart is crushed to see so many deaths.
I know that Montreal Rampage is a place where we talk about culture, events, happy things, but tonight I cannot stay silent. I hope you will understand why I am writing, accept my words, read them till the end.

Like many others here in Montreal, I learned the news very late Friday night. Paris under attacks, the Bataclan and hostages, people dead because they had a meal out. I waited anxiously (like many others) to have news of my family and friends, and found out they were all safe. I could not stop watching the news, hearing people’s testimonies, watching twitter feeds.

I saw panic, I saw sadness, and then something else. That something else is what is making me talk tonight. It’s called solidarity.

When i saw the hashtag #PorteOuverte (Open Door) starting to pour on twitter I could not help but smile. Solidarity against hate, a helping hand against a gun, compassion against fanatism, we won. One of my friends told me that he was in the street, he ran, he saved himself and opened his door to others. Unfortunately not everyone was that lucky. That makes me incredibly sad. So many gone too soon, too young. Once again, just like in January, tears were rolling down my cheek. So very sad, yes, but somehow the solidarity on twitter made it all a little better. And the next day a wonderful thing happened.

Our flag flew on different countries’ monuments all over the world. Thank you Japan, Canada, USA, Australia and the others for your love and support. As a Parisian it made my heart smile. Thank you Metropolitan Opera Of New York for singing our hymn, thank you Madonna for singing Edith Piaf, thank you President Obama for your words. All over messages came, candles were lit, hope was rushing back. Thank you world for caring. We will never forget.

In the next days we will morn, we will cry some more, we will think about those who went too soon. But we will also live. We will be happy, go to concerts, see movies, walk in the city of lights, enjoy its gardens. We will stay close, keep our chin up. We will continue to be free, because that is who we are. I will go back to my city for Christmas because I don’t want to let them win. They have not destroyed us. We are strong.

Tonight I am stating how proud I am of my country, of my hometown, of all the French men and women. Tonight I am sharing my love for my country, and for Paris. Tonight I am shouting that freedom will not be destroyed so easily. Tonight I am proud to be French. And when I see all those candles on balconies, windows and doorsteps, I remember that light can overcome hate. A candle for lost souls, a candle for hope, a candle to never forget that we are a strong nation. Yes, I am proud to be French, and once again, I thank you WORLD to care.