It was a strange feeling waking up on November 14th to the sounds of never-ending sirens and a city lined with local police officials and members of the military. In a way, seeing them made me feel safer. In another way, it was a constant reminder of the horrific events that took place on the night of November 13th and what continues occur.
I arrived in Paris on November 7th and traveled around the city before I started my one-year fellowship at ELAN Edelman just one week later. When I went for a short walk the morning after the attacks, it was like Paris had gone to sleep one city and awakened completely different. Expectedly, there was no one in the streets to be found, everything was closed and there was an indescribable tenseness that vibrated through it all.
Somehow, this magical city that was temporarily wounded found an unmatched courage to fill the streets again on Monday morning in a show of solidarity that gave me the strength to do the same. “We know that life must go on,” expressed Marion Darrieutort, GM ELAN Edelman, that Monday morning. “They will not take Paris. They cannot challenge how we live. Paris is where we live and where we go out. Everyone wants to move forward.”
I believe this same attitude was running through the veins of all Parisians out-and-about that morning. This is not to say that the people of Paris have forgotten about the innocent lives that were taken that night. On the contrary, I believe this was a show of support to the families of lost loved ones that we are all standing with them.
It has now been just over three weeks since the attacks took place and things are starting to feel a bit more “normal” in Paris again. People in the office are brighter, the tenseness has begun to slowly dissipate and shops and restaurants have resumed business as usual.
From a personal and professional standpoint, the last three weeks have taught me so much. I know that with time, I will start to find a groove here in Paris. Until then, I will embrace my discomfort and know that it is all part of this new journey I’m on.
Alexandra Fahmey is an account manager, client service in health and is currently stationed in Paris from Toronto as part of the DJE Global Fellows Program. Follow her on Twitter @allie_fahmey05.
This article was originally posted on Edelman.com.