One of the first people I met here was my airbnb host’s partner. It was a chaotic time for me, since I have my cat, Remy, with me and was a bit nervous going alone. When I arrived, this unknown man greeted me and welcomed me into the apartment. Of course everything everyone said to me about strangers and being smart and aware was rushing through my mind. I took a deep breath and listened to what my gut was telling me.
I opened to see this man’s smiling face and attempt at broken english while showing me how delicate the toilet was. I immediately felt comfortable. This man, John, (not his real name, for privacy reasons) made me feel so welcomed and at home. He even went out of his way to invite me to his favorite cafe nearby for a coffee. I decided to go! We ended spending almost 2 hours talking back and forth in both English and French. He has lived in Paris for most of his life and said he could never imagine living anywhere else. He told me about the best places for an espresso, groceries, a cheap drink, and falafal. At the end of our conversation, I asked him what the best advice he could give me was. He answered
“You have to treat Paris like a dog”.
Apparently my confusion was very evident across my face as he instantly laughed. I asked if maybe something had been lost in translation, he said no and continued to explain. “Paris is like a dog, if you show it fear, it will bite. If the city and its people can sense you are afraid, you will see danger on every corner”. I have taken this piece of advice whole heartedly.
I have always felt very safe in Paris but with recent events around the world, this sense of fear was beginning to creep in. As soon as John explained, that concept resonated with me. I have fully embraced this attitude and carried it with me everywhere I go. I walk around Paris confidently and without fear and this feeling has not yet faltered.
Each day I see police, armed guards, military forces walking around the streets, on the metros, in the parks. I even saw two police women on horses today! I always smile and give them a little nod, knowing that their very presence adds to my confidence. The city of Paris is full of light and energy, I know that the spirit of the city will continue to burn bright even in the current political environment that finds itself.