My tickets were booked for a girl’s weekend trip to Paris months ago. When exactly a week before I was set to depart, Paris fell victim to terrorists attacks happening across the city killing 130 people, there were a lot of concerns on if I should continue with my trip as planned. My mother called me late Friday night (the night of the attacks) pleading with me not to go, and continued to ask me to cancel until the night before. Other family members and friends voiced concerned. Even some of the most worldly travelers I know expressed that they would have a little hesitation about going, but most of them saying something along the lines of, “I’m sure you’ll be fine, I just would hate if something were to happen to you.”
But wouldn’t we all hate to have something happen to a loved one, regardless of the exact situation. Get in a car accident or be a victim of a gutless terrorist act? It sucks either way. And I honestly was a little worried, I thought about going on the trip vs. staying home. And decided to go forward with my trip. After my trip earlier this year centered around running 26.2 miles, I was owed a lot of wine and champagne.
The city was (obviously) on edge. Armed guards in groups of 2-5 were patrolling everywhere. EVERYWHERE. On the streets, at metro stops, outside big attractions/museums. At two different times I witnessed trucks of police and guards roll up on the Champs and tape off an area of stores. Who knows why, what was called in, or what they found. One of the girls flew in from Frankfurt and before take off someone came through the airplane and matched tickets to people to ensure everyone who was supposed to be on the flight was. There was also two members of the French military on the flight with metal suitcases as their feet. Another girl who arrived (in Paris for her first time) at a different time had a frightening experience when everyone at the metro stop she was waiting at started running and jumped into the train cars on the other side. She followed the crowd not knowing what to do and was naturally pretty terrified. But she didn’t speak French and never got to the bottom of why everyone was running. You also couldn’t enter a building (aside from small restaurants) with having your bags gone through and your coat opened. Purses, shopping bags, suitcase- didn’t matter. And you had to literally unzip/unbutton your coat and show the main trunk of your body as well.
When I first landed I headed to get a manicure (obviously) and though the technician knew barely any English, asked me if I was scared having just arrived. I told her, “not more than normal.” And that’s true, but it also sucks. Because my overall normal level of fear (specifically that of the terrorist nature) is higher in general, higher than it ever has been. I’m an expatriate. I travel a lot. I fly a lot. I’m in big cities a lot. It’s no fun that there is a fear of terrorism in my head.
But I know the probability of being involved in a terrorism attack is slim. And more so, that it can happen anywhere. I actually feel as though Paris would be safer that following week than it had been the week prior. But otherwise, it could be Paris, or I could just as likely (or more so) get shot up in a Northwest Indiana Target next month when I’m home for Christmas. (Truth be told. My only nagging fear is actually in the plane. Not only from terrorism but my perception that more and more flights are crashing or going MIA.)But the whole thing just sucks. It sucks that there is any level of concern. It sucks that people won’t be able to travel, not because of money or time off, but because of safety (perceived or otherwise). Because really, really, everyone should get to have at least a weekend in Paris.