What follows is the narrative of an Indiana native who was visiting Paris at the time of the attacks. Catherine Lacrosse was attending an Airbnb conference when ISIS terrorists struck multiple targets (Lacrosse is an Airbnb host here in Indy). NUVO has assembled a recap of her experiences from a phone conversation and multiple Facebook posts. Her page can be found here.
A note: Paris is divided into 20 “administrative districts,” or arrondissements. They are all numbered.
Thursday, I walked from the third arrondissement where the bombings took place the night after, on through the tenth and to the 18th. I walked through the whole area that was attacked 24 hours earlier, and it was pulsing. It was like being out in Broad Ripple on a Saturday night. It was 11, 12 o’clock when I was walking home. Everybody was out, all the cafés were open, and [I thought], “My God, these people never sleep!” It was cool.
[During the attacks] I was on the subway, coming back from a Cirque du Soleil show ... my girlfriend who lived in Paris called me while I was on the subway — [she was] freaking out, saying “Oh my gosh — are you OK?” She told me what was going on and fortunately, my station was coming and I was able to get off — which was, presumably, right before they closed the whole subway.
I was staying … maybe two miles north of where most of the stuff was going on. Technically, pretty far away from it.
France is so expensive that most people can’t afford to live there with a modest income. Paris does have a very active North African and Arab community within it, in the 18th and 19th arrondissements — I walked through those extensively.
While at the Airbnb conference I got to be fast friends with this remarkable woman from LA. I had two choices last [Friday] night. One was to go out with [my new friend] Shar and her friends for a wild night out and the other was to go to cirque du soleil with my friend Erelin Fournier. As most know I went out with Erelin to the cirque. Of course, we had a totally fun night at the show.
After I heard about what was happening I checked in with Shar to make sure she was ok. She was fine but was stuck in a bar trying to get a ride (taxi/uber home).
I sent her a number of messages thru the night and never heard back. This morning I sent her more messages to make sure she got home and that she was OK.
I didn't hear back so I walked down to the 3rd to find her.
Shar finally answered my multiple messages. It turns out, she was in a bar where there was a massive shootout right next to her.
She is now hiding away in her [apartment] and totally freaked out (this woman DOES not get rattled). Hearing their stories this afternoon and evening has been alarming. It was really frightening.
The strangest thing of all is that the Parisians didn't really seem to worry much. It was as if a bad thing happened and they needed to finish their wine and cigarette and continue on. Truly bizarre.
On Saturday, I was up at 7 a.m. Paris time … on my phone and the internet, assuring everybody I was fine. I finally went out about noon, 11:30 maybe, and I was surprised people were out — in the markets, in the stores, out with their kids — it was, to me, it was surreal. People aren’t shuttered away, they’re not afraid.
Where I was staying, people picked up and moved on.
In typical Catherine form, I unconsciously (and probably quite intentionally) walked right thru the heart of the Muslim community in Paris. Men were congregated in little clusters talking and smoking. Of course, no women but me in my bright pink jacket, were present. I approached two young men and asked if they spoke English and if they were Muslim. I told them I wasn't a journalist and that I am just an American woman with children. I asked how they felt about last night. Of course, they are sad. The few bad people who did this hurt not just the "non believers" they hurt the Muslims. I then asked why the Muslim community can't stop them. He couldn't really answer. He said they are so extreme they can't see the nonviolent nature of the religion.
We went on to have a very candid conversation. I thanked them, shook hands and said "Bonne journee".
I think it is so important to know that there are more people who believe in peace and coexistence than those who don't. It is amazing to me to see that Paris is still functioning, albeit with a few changes (like everything public but the streets are closed).
I'm so relieved to not be worried and I'm able to walk the streets and know that I am safe.
I'm most sorry for those who were injured, killed and terrorized. That's simply unbelievable to me.
It scares the moderate Muslims. They get bucketed; y’know, particularly as Americans, we bucket people.
I spent a lot of time out in the street and it was busy. There were a couple areas that were shut down. The third arrondissement, where many of the attacks took place, the stores were shuttered. That was Saturday, and let me tell you, Saturday is the market day, when everything is going on. Saturday night, my friends and I, we went out, we were out on our bikes — we went to a very fancy restaurant, and it was booming.
I need to couch this with: I haven’t been out on a Saturday night in Paris in a really long time. I don’t know if that was normal … to me, it was pretty vibrant.
We finally asked the waiter (23 year old male) what it was like for him. He said, "yes, it was scary. But, we have to go on living. If we don't we allow them victory"