The evening started with a lovely dinner at a friend's house. We were enjoying our wine and were happy to reunite as old friends do on a Friday night in Paris. While we are licking our fingers over a Strawberry Pavlova one of our teenage boys comes into the dining room looking very worried. He had received a twitter... a twitter and a second later... and the world had taken a drastic change for the worse.
We turned on the TV to discover that confusion reigns. One, two, three or more attacks had happened the other side of the city. There was talk of hostages and we are all thinking... please, not again! Scenes of the January attack come flooding back immediately.
A phone call home to check on the kids and to confirm that they are safe. Another minute for the situation to sink in. It seems surreal as a creeping, familiar feeling of having lived though this anguish not so long ago overcomes me.
Terrible attacks have hit our city. It is a very, very sad day for Paris. The uncertainty and the feeling of helplessness to defend ourselves leads to fear. Now, you can either give in to this fear or defy it. It depends on your personality, culture and attitude, I suppose. Everyone reacts as best they can.
However, the media are producing headlines that can't be helping the current situation of nationwide emotional instability. I have turned the TV off for a while. We cannot let ourselves descend onto the assailant's level. We are not at war! We are a civilized country. We have values, believes and a constitution that prevents us from descending into chaos.
Going for my morning run, I find the ho-bos sitting on their usual corner, the cafés are open as are the local supermarkets. There is less traffic but I am queuing at the boulangerie just like every Saturday morning. Life goes on. People are exchanging knowing looks but the Parisian who ventured out of the house today are sending a message. A devastating tragedy has occurred but we need to "faire face" and stand united and strong against this threat.
As I walk home carrying my shopping, I can hear a familiar tune and I turn my head. All the way down the road a four year old boy is singing "La Marseillaise" at the top of his lungs for everyone to hear while his Dad is pushing his stroller. That is what I will tell my kids: Stand up for your rights and show solidarity. Sing "La Marseillaise".