This is a post that I had originally planned on writing a few weeks from now. As of last night, I feel obliged to bring it forward.
I saw the news as it broke. Start to finish. My heart broke a little bit more with each headline.
You may recall my initial struggles to find my feet in Paris, and all other niggling problems since. I bitched and moaned and vented all about how awful it was adjusting to a city I felt completely alone in.
Since returning home I have realised that I was never once alone in my beautiful new home. Sure it takes some getting used to. Sure their banking system still winds me up.
The French, however, are some of the most beautiful, genuine people I have ever had the fortune to meet.
My friends, some of whom I’ve barely managed a few lines of conversation with, stuck with me from the start. From my very first lecture I was offered help, guidance and friendship.
Now, almost three months in, I have begun to think of Paris as my home. As much as London, Sussex or Durham, Paris is where I belong. Paris is my home.
Paris is a beautiful city with a truly beautiful history. It is a city that far too many people take for granted, myself included. Behind each front door are a hundred front doors with thousands of people living and working behind them every single day. It is not an extension of Disneyland. It is not a series of tourist attractions. It is not run to entertain or offer romance. Paris is a home.
The people I have been lucky enough to spend my days and nights with are true Parisians. They wear stripes and black polo neck jumpers, they talk about philosophy, smoke endless cigarettes and drink their coffee black. They speak incredibly fast French, mainly in slang I don’t understand, and are just brilliant. They are kind and accommodating. Paris is their home.
Just as they reached out to me from the very start, we too must reach out to them in their time of need. I am absolutely heartbroken at the events of last night. More so when I am told stories from inside the walls.
I can only hope that the French stay as strong as ever and that we are able to offer our undying support for them.
They were friends to me when I was in need, and so we will all be a friend to them.