I'm tired of feeling I need to hold back on the truth so people don't think the worst of me. Honestly, lately, I couldn't care less what anybody thinks because too many of us have kept the truth back so we won't be considered racist or homophobes, etc. etc. You know the drill, don't you. If TRUTH hurts that much that we must hide it, deflect, and insult it in an attempt to make it untrue, America might as well fold up her flag and go home.
More on 9/11 in Paris: (see my post below for the first part of what's turning out to be a series of 9/11 memories from me)
Mr and Mrs. Z (that'd be me, of course) lived in Paris for four (heavenly) years.
We went through 9/11 while living at 6 Avenue Bugeaud in the 16th Arrondissement. It was a nightmare to be so far away from America and an especially difficult nightmare to get all the grief and worry without any of the patriotism displayed in America shortly after the disaster. I heard that, in America, flags were suddenly flying and people were going back to church and synagogues and love for our country was also otherwise on display; I didn't get much of that in Paris; I saw patriotism only from the French women who sported American flag purses and bandanas in support of us and in spite of the feds telling us Americans to 'lay low for a while on the patriotic stuff'...........
Across the street from our apartment lived an Arab or Iranian family.
Windows in Paris are usually about 9' tall and unscreened, with the obvious glass paned windows which open out instead of up, and lovely white metal louvered shutters which also open out and which have slits so you can have air and privacy at the same time. The family across the street was conspicuous for the amount of time those metal blinds were shut tight. I figured they didn't live there all the time because it was frequently dark for weeks but, very often, I could see light through those slits even while the blinds were shut tight, disabling anyone from seeing in from across the street. We were both on the fourth floors of our buildings and I could see windows all around that building open to the sunlight, glass paned windows thrown open for a breeze like mine were, etc., and, in contrast, I could see the odd closed windows, almost boarded up with light behind the louvers, which had always prompted my curiosity. 'Creepy,' I thought, to live in that apartment and not see out. What do they do in there? Obviously, it was none of my business then nor is it now, but it was a very odd thing and I'd always been curious about them.
The day of 9/11 was, obviously, a nightmare for me and my husband.
We'd walked to the grocery store together that day......my mother'd left the day before, on 9/10, after her yearly two week stay with us (thank GOD she left that day and not on 9/11, because she'd have been delayed in Canada with all the others for days; remember how they'd kept people from entering America after 9/11?) and we needed lots of things. Normally, I shopped on a more daily basis at the little fish and meat and vegetable/fruit stores in our area, loving the banter with the grocers, the freshness of the food, but, once a month or so, I'd walk to the big grocery store (called CASINO) and shop for heavier things like orange juice, milk, pastas, canned goods, wine, all those things that get heavy and I needed help. I'd walk there, do the shopping, pay for it, and be told it would be at my apartment in two hours. Deliveries were the norm at Casino and did I love that! I'd buy an International Herald Tribune (mostly for Calvin and Hobbes and the NY Times Crossword puzzle because the rest of it was the same idiotic bias of the NY TIMES, which owned the Herald with the Washington Post back then) and go to a favorite cafe and enjoy a hot, rich, lovely coffee served with cold water (the combo is deadly good) and soak in the atmosphere of a French cafe which I love so much.
THIS day, Mr Z accompanied me and we walked home after shopping, passed my favorite flower shop (it's part of a chain called "Au Nom de La Rose"
and sells only roses), with its rose petals strewn purposefully onto the sidewalk and the scent so beautiful, and I said "Imagine a world without roses!?"
We walked home and he went into his office and I went into the den and put the TV on................the first plane had just hit. I called to him to come look, and the second plane hit. Mr. Z said "It's terrorism." I wasn't even sure what he meant, to tell you the truth. Shortly after, the full impact hit us both. I knew that, very suddenly, I knew what a world without roses would be like. And I have been right. But, my story is about the neighbors across the street and I have digressed;
Those tightly closed louvered shutters across the street, directly across from our den, were open!
Lights in all the windows were coming on as the afternoon aged, and I could see the dark skinned Arab or Iranian folks inside greeting people. Big hugs and smiles and congratulatory slapping on the back was occurring. First, I thought it was a party, and I enjoyed watching the happiness! Then I remembered what was happening on the TV in front of me, journalists talking about the horrible details coming to light every minute, and I began to wonder at people of any nationality having fun that day.......and then suspicion hit me and I shuddered and told myself to stop being suspicious, there must be a soccer game on because, as the guests were coming into the apartment, the hosts and others would point them to something at the windows and rejoicing. My TV was against the window wall so while I watched it, I was facing their windows...... apparently, I realized it must be their TV that they were looking at, that theirs was in the same place and they could look out past the TV at my windows, too. We were practically looking in at each other. It crept into my mind that they were rejoicing ABOUT 9/11...could it be?
NO! So, I went through every channel on French TV to see if there was an Arabic/Egyptian or Iranian soccer game they were rejoicing over.....surely that's what was going on to cause the glee!?
There was no soccer game.
There was no reason to rejoice anywhere on TV, just coverage of the World Trade Towers coming down.........hour after hour after hour. On every channel.
And then I knew
. From the few times I'd happened to see our neighbors across the street, I'd learned that they were dark skinned people, some in Arab clothing, some in the very chic clothing one sees on Iranians, especially: I'd found the window thing odd because I like sunlight!, but it wasn't troubling, just a curiosity....But now I looked at these people in a very different way.......I saw they were thrilled, and they were thrilled over 9/11..
And they were pointing to their TV, glued to it as other guests kept arriving, showing their guests what was showing on the TV, huge grins, food being served, happy slaps on the backs.
Was this an anomaly? Hopefully so. Draw your own conclusions. I did.
I don't remember seeing those windows wide open again. It didn't matter, I could barely look out without thinking of that awful day and that awful reaction. But, then I think of roses, anyway.......and try to concentrate on that.