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For Paris, my heart is aching.

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IMG_2176Paris is in my heart. It has been there for so long, I hardly remember a time when it wasn’t. I walked off the train in Gare de Lyon, I was 19 years old, carrying a big pack on my back, I felt strong and free. Finally stepping in the world, Paris caught me in its embrace and never let me go.

I went back after a couple of years, planning to stay forever, even though, at 21, forever is never very long. It was a bitter winter but I learned to love the cold. Our one room studio was dark and small, but I can only remember light and space. And then there were the people. New people appearing in my life, turning into friends, becoming important, opening my eyes, while Paris watched and smiled.

Whenever I go back to Europe, I make sure I can step off the train in Gare de Lyon and every time I feel 19 again, excited and full of hope. I am back, happiness in my heart.

On Thursday I’ll be flying To Paris, arriving at Charles de Gaulle airport. Sofia will be spending a month in Paris, in “my” Paris and I hope it will take over her heart, become that place where it all started. I want her to have a memorable time and come home with her own Paris’ stories. As the date draws closer, I have been getting very excited.

IMG_2659And then it all changed. It started when I read a friend posting on Facebook, to someone living in Paris, “Are you ok?”. In the past few years I have become suspicious of such harmless enquiry. I immediately think: something has happened. But I don’t like this new way of being, this fear that creeps up and makes me look for bad news. I ignored my uneasiness. It was Sofia who told me and I could not ignore it anymore. It was Paris, again.

I feel heavy and confused. I want to know, but I don’t want to know. I want my girls safe by my side, but I want to let them go. I want to be in Paris, but I don’t want to be there.

My girls are starting their life in the world, they are leaving the nest, spreading their wings. I am cherishing every moment of their new found independence, even the fear in seeing them go. But then this happen and is so real, so close, so ultimate and I am questioning everything.

We have to wait and see. It’s all so raw and there is no need to make a decision quite yet.

I am not worried about terrorist attacks. Since 9/11 I am so used to worry, every time I catch a plane, every time I am in a busy street or at a big event. But the worry doesn’t worry me anymore. It’s just part of me and I accept it a move on. I have decided that I am not stopping what I love doing, I have become quite fatalistic and I know I can’t escape when my time will come.

Arriving in a city in mourning, leaving Sofia surrounded by sorrow and pain and not being there to hold her and guide her through it. These are my concerns. I feel that I should be more concerned about her physical safety, that I shouldn’t impose my fatalistic view of the life on her.

My heart is aching, for Paris and for humanity.


  1. Angela M says:

    You wrote a beautiful article, Barbara. Such a sad day today! 🙁

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