Je Suis Nice, Je Suis France

“Il n’y a qu’ un bonheur dans la vie, c’est d’aimer et d’être aimé.” ~ Georges Sands

Another post more heartbreak.

While each shooting, bombing, death and a nation’s agony pierces my heart, there are some that attack my soul.

France is one of those.

No I am not a French national. I don’t even have a drop of French blood in me.

But my relationship with France goes deeper then blood. It is a country and in particular a city: Paris, that saved my life. Because of France, because of Paris, I am alive today.

When I flew Io Paris on October 3, 2011, I honestly had no idea what to expect, except that my grief was a dark vortex that was consuming me in a silent nightmare. It was, in part one of my own making, but addiction, mental illness and a stabbing grief never makes sense when you are in the throes of it.

Being in Paris for almost two weeks changed all of that. It gave me hope to get better. It gave me a reason to live again. It was a country with its fun eclectic culture, that taught me life does truly go on after death.

It was a country where dreams come alive and memories are remembered. I had joked as children with my sister that she would support us as an oceanographer along the Seine, and my cousin would be a starving ballerina, and I would be a starving writer and that we would all live there together in a tiny minuscule apartment. Nothing would matter except we were following our dreams.

Thirteen years later that memory made me laugh as I walked through the Place des Vosges knowing my sister would have loved it. Knowing she embodied everything that was the French culture.

Knowing that though I would never forget, I truly had to live. I had to get healthy. I couldn’t waste my life away, waiting until I died.

France not only gave me a kick in the derriere, but blinded me with her lights, force fed me with her food, and drowned me in the Seine until I realized life was something that was truly amazing.

That is what the french culture is all about. La vie est belle. Life is beautiful. It truly is. They embrace who they are with satire, wine, freedom, and no apologies. They take pride in their country. They own who they are and they celebrate that. Vive La France.

After Charlie Hebdo, the bombings and attacks at the cafés, Bataclan, and Stadium, France didn’t falter, they celebrated in a way only the French can do. It might seem inapropriate to other Western countries, but it was wholey France. Death would not make them stop enjoying life and the freedoms and culture that make them uniquely them, and what other countries envy and why tourists flock to them.

No they will keep living, keep being French with no apologies.

I was suppose to be there this month. Taking a writing course in Paris. Due to financial and familial obligations I had to postpone. But I will go. THIS does not stop me. This makes me fiercely protective of a country that not only embodies freedom, culture, life, but teaches everyone how to live and how to love and yes how to fight and how to mourn.

Je Suis Nice. Je Suis Paris. Vive l’amour.

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