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On this day 8 years ago....
Paris changed, I changed. We don't forget.
Given the events rocking the world at the moment, November 13th could have come and gone without noticing. But for me, the opposite happened— remembering the atrocities committed on this date in 2015 felt more raw than in recent years. Maybe it’s because I woke up to weather that struck me as identical to the weather on that day or because I saw alerts that streets would be blocked off for city officials to commemorate lives lost. Or maybe because I, myself, feel more raw. Some years are harder than others.
Whatever the reason, it prompted me to go back and read some of the stories that emerged in the days and weeks that followed and I came across a collection of very short essays in the New York Times that I had contributed to in late November 2015. It’s been years since I read all of our thoughts and reactions but they still feel fresh. I was writing The New Paris at the time and felt paralyzed by grief, unsure of how I could possibly continue writing during such tragic circumstances. It all felt insignificant.
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But that project was about shining a light on Paris as a living, breathing global capital, with all the good and bad that it entails. It was about celebrating the dynamics that were changing and shaping Paris. A month after the attack, the project started to feel even more vital. Paris was enduring and recovering and so was I as one of its residents.
As the editors wrote to introduce our essays:
Perhaps Paris, which has survived sieges by the Vikings, Henry of Navarre and the Prussians, is more than a beautiful, refined theme park to which we escape from America and improve ourselves. Perhaps Paris’s beauty lies in its capacity to shore itself up and endure.
Below you will find essays by Americans — expats, travelers and writers — trying to take the long view of Paris. They are picking up the pieces after the Nov. 13 attacks. And they are looking at the city, unfiltered, trying to reconnect with its soul.
This idea of picking up the pieces resonates still, and not only because of this anniversary. Perhaps there is something in these vignettes that will speak to you, too.