AMA: “Do you feel safe in Paris?”

Yes. I get this question a lot.

After the attacks last November, I’ve had people question my decision to move to France, and even go so far as to tell me I shouldn’t go. I’m sure they meant well, but this is an extremely sensitive topic for me. I won’t let fear stop me from living. The French have the saying, “Fluctuat nec mergitur”, which means, “Tossed but not sunk.” Although the events were devastating, the country has chosen to continue to love and embrace life instead of hide with fear. I admire that.

Today I visited Place de la République, which has become the monument of the Paris attacks. As I ascended the metro stairs, patriotic music filled the square where hundreds of people had come to pay their respects. The monument was decorated with hand-written letters, flowers, and candles. A small screen nearby displayed a slide show of people around the world showing support for France. I was proud to see a photo of Barack Obama standing beside François Hollande.

As it started to rain, strangers began to take each others’ hands. When someone grabbed my own, I felt like I was part of their world and it felt okay to cry with them. After the rain stopped, people took out matches and relit the candles together in silence. It was powerful; it was symbolic; and it was utterly beautiful. You could feel the emotion in the air.

My local friends tell me Paris feels safer than ever. Although it will always be a serious topic, one was able to joke, “You should worry more about my smoking habits than you should about something happening to me in Paris.” So far, the only things that scare me are the machine guns the French police carry as they patrol the city. I’ve felt more uneasy in downtown Seattle, where men have followed and cat-called me down the block. The French welcome me with the utmost respect and chivalry.

So moms and dads, ne vous inquiètez pas. Don’t worry. We’re going to be fine 🙂

 

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