[FIRST PERSON] Ledger Graphic Designer’s Close Call in Paris

PARIS_PHOTO_DECEMBER 2015_WHITE ON GRAYIn the middle of November, my boyfriend Doug and I attended a conference in Paris put on by Airbnb to bring together people from all over the world who welcome guests into their homes and to celebrate the global community. We’ve been renting our place out occasionally through Airbnb for the past several months. What a shocking juxtaposition the tragic events that were to take place Friday, November 13th would be to the spirit of the conference.

Over the first couple of days of the conference, we met so many great like-minded people from places such as London, New Zealand, Slovenia, Macedonia, Greece, New York and San Francisco. On that Friday night, we planned to attend a meet-up with a bunch of Los Angeles-based hosts at a restaurant by Canal St. Martin in the 10th Arr. By the time we got there, Doug and I were both so tired from walking we decided to skip the meal and headed back to our hotel.

While we were walking, we started hearing sirens all around us, and I recall Doug saying “Sounds like Silver Lake around here!” We were unaware, but the horror was starting to unfold. We got to our hotel and turned on the TV to hear the reports on CNN of gunfire at a local restaurant. We were shocked to see that it was right where we had just been. Then, the reports of explosions at a nearby soccer stadium and then more reports of gunfire at the Bataclan nightclub.

Then we learned it was Southern California based Eagles of Death Metal who were playing when the terrorists opened fire on the crowd. We have many mutual friends in common with that band and have known them for years. As if the situation wasn’t already bad enough, the connection with a local band in this foreign country really hit home. I couldn’t help thinking about how many times I had gone to see bands play in clubs and arenas, never thinking that the sanctity of that experience could be shattered by such terror.

Just like it is now standard protocol in movie theaters to advise you to “report sketchy characters,” along with not talking and silencing cellphones, it’s a sad realization that now every time I go to a concert, I won’t be able to help thinking about what happened in Paris and worry a little bit if it could happen again.

On the Saturday after the attacks, walking around Paris was a lot like I remember the day after 9/11 was—everyone looked shell-shocked, their faces ashen. You could tell everyone was trying to comprehend the same set of circumstances. Airbnb reached out to all of the 5,000 hosts attending their conference to make sure they were safe. Many Parisian hosts opened their homes free of charge to anyone who needed a place to stay.

By Sunday, people had returned to the streets in droves and filled the cafes once again. While every tragedy brings with it a new sobering reality, it’s heartening to see that we continue to go on with our lives, still enjoying our sense of community and hopefully even strengthened by it a little more.

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