I remember the 9/11 terror attacks. Being told by someone at the office that it had happened but not really understanding the situation because I didn’t even know what the World Trade Centre was.
I remember leaving work that night and seeing the images for the first time on TV in the shop window display that I walked past on the way to the train station; the uneasy feeling creeping in that life had just changed forever.
But I also remember the humbling stories of the acts of bravery and heroism that occurred that day, and how a few years later I arrived in New York and fell in love with it’s unstoppable spirit.
I remember the 7/7 bombings in London. Suddenly getting calls from my family to ask if I was safe and having to reassure them that I wasn’t working in London that day. I remember the relief when I got a “We’re okay” text from my friend working at Head Office.
I remember the crowds of us walking in a determined silence to our offices each day for weeks whilst the tube lines were closed. I remember how one day whilst waiting at the traffic lights a woman in a headscarf was shouted at by a man who’d bumped into her who told her to “go back to your country and stop bombing us”.
But I also remember how another stranger immediately put a protective hand on her shoulder and told the man that his views were disgusting. And how as soon as the tube reopened we were all back on it; wary and nervous but determined not to let the fear beat us.
And I’ll always remember being confused yesterday when I started to see the #prayforparis images appear on Facebook and then my tears as I watched the horrific events unfold. The feeling of utter hopelessness and fear for the people of Paris and the sheer incomprehension of such meaningless acts.
But I will also remember how despite the terror, the Parisians opened their doors to let people on the streets know that they had a safe place to stay. And I remember the Paris that I know. A place of beauty and hope and resilience and inspiration. The place where I got engaged and have had some of the best experiences of my life. (And hope to have many more).
Most of all, I remember that the actions of the few do not reflect the views of the many, and that there is still love and light and hope and good in this world.
Paris, you are in my thoughts.