November 13th, 2015
by Izzy Catanzaro
The weather on November 13th, 2015 was strange. It started out like the majority of the other days that week: grey skies and a slight breeze, but I couldn’t help but notice the bitter cold when I walked out to my car that morning.
The school day was filled with laughter and talk of the new One Direction and Justin Beiber albums, and ended on the same monotonous note with everyone buzzing with excitement for the weekend. The news only came later when I was getting coffee with two of my friends after school while we were sipping our caramel lattes and discussing the woes of the college process. The BBC update read that there had been an attack in Paris in which about a dozen people were feared dead. We exclaimed with distress and sympathy how terrible these all to common attacks were, but soon returned to our old conversation. We left soon after, as the first snow drifted down on us and reminded me of the bitter cold that had sent chills down my spine that very morning.
By the time the next update came, we had migrated to a nearby bookstore. BBC informed me that what happened in Paris had been an act of terrorism. I once again sighed, saddened at the thought of how terrible all of this senseless violence was.
Our next stop was a popular store bursting with the scents of incense and serenity. While browsing in the store, I heard a woman in her late 20’s ask nonchalantly, “So you don’t think this Paris thing is a big deal?”. The store manager replied, “Well it is for the news, but I don’t know how bad it is really….” Their voices melted into the background as I walked away.
When we left the store, we were met with violently pouring rain. After saying goodbye to my friends, I drove home alone in the pitch-blackness as the wind howled on the other side of the windshield. When I finally reached my room, my phone buzzed a third time, and I finally decided to see what was going on. I was shocked to find that over 40 people had been senselessly murdered, and that at least 60 were being held hostage. I got a really weird feeling in my stomach: a feeling I hadn’t felt since I learned of the Boston Marathon Bombings back in 2013. I tried to read my book again, but it was impossible to think as thoughts of anger, confusion and grief swam around in my head and the wind outside beat on the windows of my room. The weather that day was just so strange.
I was devastated: distraught, upset, and heartbroken for the people of Paris and their loved ones. So many were hurt that night in one way or another. But what really made this all set in, was a picture I saw online of the Eiffel Tower, a global symbol of hope and love and everything that is good in life, was dark. The lights go out at 1 a.m. every day, yet this routine maneuver had such a profound effect on me. The beacon of hope for the world was dark, and the people of Paris were still suffering.
I was born in 1998, so although I lived through 9/11, I don’t remember anything about that day. I know it was a different situation because it was an attack on our country and our own people, but I have always felt a special love for Paris, and I couldn’t help but feel that knot in my stomach increase throughout the night on November 13th. More than 100 people died that night in Paris. Another 300 were wounded. It wasn’t just big for the news, as that man in the store had thought, and it wasn’t just another heartbreaking one-man attack, as my friends and I had thought at the coffee shop. When I saw pictures of that night, I saw my own fear. I saw pictures of bodies being covered with sheets on street sidewalks. I saw pictures of police officers surrounding Notre Dame Cathedral, a place whose awe-inspiring beauty had made me think it invincible.
We have been blessed with progress, yet the events of November 13th reminded me that, we still have to live in constant fear of the unknown. That night when I finally went to sleep, I said a prayer for the people of Paris. I turned my light out and blackness filled my room. All I could hear in that moment were my thoughts and the still violent wind picking up outside in the deep, dark night. After a pause of silence, I decided to also say a prayer for the world. I know this is vague, I thought to myself, but I only wish that the world could be safe from this sort of terror. I felt a tear rolling down my cheek. How strange it was, that it had been so bitterly cold that morning.
Image Credit: https://clausitosfootprints.files.wordpress.com/2009/03/europe2007-622.jpg