In some ways Paris is unchanged since the 2015 terrorist attacks.
Paris–always and still–reveals herself to me as a black and white photo, sepia really, with her creamy buildings, grey roofs, grey skies and people, clothed in black, walking colorless sidewalks. When color appears, unexpectedly, in a red umbrella or a blue awning, it tickles one’s senses.
The hellish Paris traffic is unchanged. Here, parallel parking is a blood sport and all bumpers have been bumped.
On sidewalks, pedestrians, scooters, baby strollers, bikes and hover-boards compete for space, receding and swelling like schools of fish. And I am–always and still–a salmon.
But some things are changed.
Armed guards now populate sidewalks and tourist attractions and security guards wand and search you before you can enter the large department stores. I want to say, “Dude. I’m just here for the shoes”.
These mother f-ing terrorists are trying to take the joy out of life’s simple pleasures. Where are my fellow tourists? Tourist activity has slowed to a trickle so the Tourist Scamming panhandlers of old have been replaced by even more numerous panhandlers but theses are now truly homeless and completely desperate. “J’ai faim” on a sign really does means “I’m hungry”.
Yes. Much has changed.
But–always and still–the Eiffel Tower continues to play peak-a-boo. Boulangeries and patisseries remain on every city block. They are reminders that this is still Paris. My Paris. I will not allow terrorists to take away life’s simple pleasures. I will return to Paris and I will buy myself some freaking awesome Paris shoes.
I will notice the creamy buildings set against the grey skies and when I catch sight of a red umbrella or a blue awning, it will tickle my senses. This sepia city will take my breath away. Always and still.