What would you like me to say? That we were going to be in Paris this weekend?
But it was the risk of refugee-caused delays to the Eurostar eating into too much of our weekend that saw our eyes look west. And so I write this in a Wiltshire market town, where locals are walking into their only bookstore to pick-up books they ordered, where people are shopping in the market despite the rain, where young men out walking their dogs hold open doors for old ladies. I walk along the Avon and think. I am worlds away.
What else would you like me to say? That I know who did it? That I have a witch for the end of your finger? What good would that do in an ambitiously imperial world where the difference between an op and blowback is entirely arbitrary.
I should probably tell you some of my favourite Paris memories, like my first birthday in Europe, or farewelling my second mother in the snow before she died, or meeting my sister’s husband for the first time, or getting changed in a stinking storeroom of a shitty bar across from the Moulin Rouge because there wasn’t enough time between meetings, or taking my parents shopping in the Bastille market and introducing my father to French wild strawberries and my mother the psychonaut to Merguez sausages made by actual Berbers.
But I am using my memories right now. I am using them all. I imagine a lot of people are.
No… wait. I have one. It’s about my second mother when she came to Paris a few months before she died. I took her to Chez Janou for lunch… a breezy walk from one of the attacks. She just looked around. This will do. This is Paris. I’m in Paris. My second mother was a lifelong francophile in a way few people are. She was a chef and actually opened a French restaurant in Newcastle without ever having been there. She had been reading French cookbooks -in French- since she was a child, in between raising her siblings after her own mother died.
Paris is like that. It is a place of the heart, even for those who haven’t been there.
Last year, I took my mother the psychonaut to the part of Marie Antionette’s garden where my second mother -her best friend- had her ashes secretly scattered. (You can’t do this, obviously. But one of her sons snuck her remains in regardless. We were never close but I love him for that.) She sat down on the grass and cried and cried and cried. My father is weirdly aspie about these things and offered to take a photo of my mother the psychonaut in the spot where the remains were scattered (he meant it in a nice way, he’s just not wired very well). So I took him on a walk around the lake so my mothers could be alone.
We know what’s coming next. From both sides. We know this is going to get worse before it gets better. So it is okay to be sad, it is okay to pray, it is okay to be angry for a little while.
Just maintain your coherence.
Incidents like these send shockwaves up and down between the worlds. That is what they are supposed to do. They are supposed to decohere us. Do not let them. That power remains with you at all times and that power is infinite.
Maintain your coherence. Ensure your words and actions provide coherence to others. And so the City of Light shall remain undimmed.
Some Parisian stories from the vault:
- Magic’s Terroir: A New View Over the Bastille
- How to Pack for Paris
- Sherlock Holmes and the Unicorn: How Ideas Migrate
- How Meditation is Like French Cooking
- There are Snakes but also Ladders
- Somebody’s Spinning Somewhere
- Checking in with Magic rather than Foursquare
- A Week of All the Feels
Paris, je t’aime toujours.