So of course within the week or two I begin my blog about ex-pat/re-pat life in London, I am actually in Paris with my family on a lovely vacation. The sights and views (and most importantly, the food and wine) here mean we are often ignoring the fact that we only have a few days to soak it all in. It has been a wonderful feeling, however, thinking about the idea of “home” and having that be London, rather than New York. Now that London has been my base of operations for about 14 months, I’m much more attached than I thought I’d be. The window has passed where I would have gone home immediately after my degree, as some of my international peers have done, and I’m determined to make London stick.
The reality of Paris being a short Eurostar train journey away makes it all the better.
I wrote the words above a few days before my family and I left Paris on Nov. 10th, and I was too busy enjoying the sights of Paris to open my computer again to finish or post the entry. As the world now knows, Friday Nov. 13 was to be a horrific terrorist attack killing 129 people and injuring hundreds more. Of course, I am incredibly grateful that we are safe, but I’m truly troubled by the terrorism that is becoming a more frequent occurrence in Europe. In the US, we are very sadly accustomed to hearing about school shootings or cinema massacres, often carried out by lone gunmen who are later shown to be mentally ill. When I moved to London, I hadn’t anticipated I would feel different about my safety, but I did and I do. Once I got used to the police not having guns (and knowing that gun control laws mean most people did not carry guns either), I felt safer than I had in New York City, where it had crossed my mind every day that I worked in Times Square, a high-risk target area.
Of course, no matter where you are, if someone wants to kill badly enough, they will find the means. The Paris terror attacks were well-planned and involved several different teams of killers who stopped at nothing to bring down innocent people trying to enjoy a Friday night in their beautiful city. We cannot search every car or detain every person, and that means on some level we must trust each other.
I am saddened not just by the terrible taking of life in Paris and in other cities like Beirut in the past week, but by a realization that just came to me, though it should’ve been obvious. I will likely not see a world at peace in my lifetime, and it is also likely that we, as humans, will never allow such a thing to exist. We are so much and so dangerously in our own way.