Going to Paris Less Than 24 Hours After The November 13th Attacks.

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“Imagine all the people, living life in peace.” -John Lennon.

 

I was in a taxi on my way to Pierre Elliott Trudeau Airport in Montreal, expecting to fly to Charles De Gaulle Airport in Paris, when I heard of the first suicide bombing outside of the Stade de France. It was 4pm.

I continued on to YUL airport having absolutely no idea what was slowly unfolding in a city that I was supposed to fly to, in just a few short hours.

Before I could even get to the airport, I had already heard of multiple suicide bombings, shootings, and even innocent hostages being taken in the Bataclan Theatre.

Every time I refreshed twitter, the death toll keep rising.

The vibe in the airport was quiet. Everyone seemed to know what was happening, yet no one spoke about it.

In a line up full of backpackers, families, and couples, waiting to check in to their flight headed to the city of lights, no one spoke a word about the tragedy that was unfolding in the destination they were heading to.

Yet, we all knew what was happening.

When I checked my bag at the counter, I asked the associate, innocently: “Are there any delays going to Paris tonight?”

“Not yet….sir.” she said.

She knew exactly what I meant.

And I knew exactly what she meant, as well.

My flight wasn't taking off that night - and with good reason. As I sat at my gate, it seems like more breaking news was being broadcast every few minutes and we all started to understand the severity of the situation. This was going to be (if it wasn’t already), the biggest terrorist attack on France since World War II.

My phone started blowing up with text messages, Facebook messages, and Instagram DMs, from people wondering if I was already in Paris or if I had even flown off yet.

I assured everyone that I was okay, and I hadn’t left yet. But, it’s scary to think that if I had left just 24 hours earlier…I could have been there, just like all the other innocent people who were tragically at the wrong place, at the wrong time.

———————

Life is incredibly fragile. And, it really hit me when I realized that I could have been sitting in front of that restaurant, with the chairs facing the street like they always do in Paris, enjoying french wine and cheese with friends, with absolutely no idea that everything was about to change.

Forever.

And, although my flight was cancelled that particular night, it was set to take off the next day.

So, ultimately I was faced with a decision: Do I go to Paris, or do I change my plans?

———————

As you guys already know, I’m back home in Montreal writing this blog post after spending a week in Paris. So, obviously I took the flight the next day, and stuck to my plans.

 

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Flying to Paris less than 24 hours after the attacks took place.

 

I want to tell you why I decided to do so. Here's my take:

Unfortunately, life isn't perfect. Terrible things happen that are out of our control. It’s scary, and devastating all at once.

You don’t know who you could trust anymore.

You don't know where you should or should not go.

You panic at the sound of unexpected noise. Any sudden movement causes panic.

Yet, I don’t think we should run away.

With what reason? Other than to come back at a time thats more convenient…for you?

I think that there’s beauty in being there to support those who just one day ago, were complete strangers to you.

Especially when your instinct tells you to run away and hide.

 

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I took this picture outside the Bataclan Theatre, 3 days after the attack.

Life isn’t perfect, and thus, vacations, holidays, and travel, shouldn't need to be perfect either. If they are, then great. But, cancelling or modifying your plans at the first sign of uncertainty, fear, or discomfort, and heading off to a “better place” that seems more suitable to be your temporary dreamland, just doesn't seem right to me.

And so, I decided to stay on my initial path that was intended to lead me to the beautiful city of Paris.

I knew that my trip wasn’t going to be the same as I initially envisioned it to be but that was just fine with me. And, although Paris wasn't lit up like it always is when I landed - it was when I left.

Because in the end, people are beautiful.

And, the people of Paris showed that they can be incredibly resilient, courageous, and beautiful, too.

 

“Even in this darkest night, Paris remains the city of light.” -Hilary Clinton

 

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I would love to hear what your thoughts are, too. This is a safe place, so feel free to post them here:

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