Late Sunday evening, I awoke to the sound of blistering wind and fireworks in the distance. The wind had created a draft in my flat that blew loose paper around. I lay on top of the covers disoriented (8+ hours on set meant that laying down to check my messages meant a 30 min nap)...
Between the wind tunnel, the news we'd been inundated with all weekend and the constant sound of fireworks exploding in the distance, I woke up fearing the worst.
I recall years ago an instructor telling me "how the media works" when it comes to reporting snowstorms...
'They tell you it's going to be very bad and not to leave your house... they want you to stay home and watch the news. They want you to keep watching. the snow never hits as hard as they say it will and it's the same thing in the summer ... they tell you it's a heatwave and you should stay home. sensationalism.
This was no snowstorm. This was no heatwave.
This was terrorism. And it works the same way - they want to make you scared of doing what comes naturally to you. They want to make you scared to Friday leave your house.
On Friday night when the news broke, I was at Red Bull Music Academy's 5th birthday in East London. The party had all the trappings of an extravagant night out for TK; graffiti walls, party hats, face paint, balloons, umbrella drinks, loot bags, a photo booth and an amazing lineup of DJs and live performers.
And yet I couldn't call an uber fast enough.
The night spiralled downward after I received a frantic call from one of my closest friends in Toronto;
he was concerned
a) for my safety
b) that my Instagram post from earlier that day (about superstition & "Freaky Friday the 13th") might now be seen in bad taste...
the next set of messages came from my Grandmother. She was watching breaking news on Paris and the particular station she was watching was reporting that London was next, eerie image of Big Ben shone in the background.
Around me the partied continued... and after 30 minutes or so I decided to head home. Mine was a mixed bag of not being able to enjoy myself while responding to messages that I was "OK" and rational fear. I was at a concert in a happening part of town. Terrorists had attacked a similar venue and situation in a comparable neighbouring country.
I also had to travel to the opposite side of the city and my phone was nearly dead.
It was 12:30 ... easily the earliest I've ever left a party, ever.
When I got home I counted my blessings, 2 weeks ago I was planning a trip to Paris this very weekend. Instead I had been booked on a photoshoot last minute. I had even toyed with the idea of requesting to change the date of the shoot, but didn't want to ruffle any feathers.
I had to wake up earlier than normal and head to work. Our Paris office was closed and much of our systems down. My boss explained to us the somber mood of the city and that London was always a target. A real morale boost on a damp and rainy Saturday. It seemed there were still celebrities and the uber-rich in need of press conference + gala outfits. The phone rang, we inputted things manually and it was business as usual. Albeit at a much slower pace. My coworkers and I discussed our plans for saturday night; one had just found out that her event (A celebration of french DJs at XOYO) had been cancelled. She had been looking forward to to this night out since she'd purchased the tickets months ago. When I asked, if she'd be going elsewhere she told me she was too scared.
When I left work - I walked a block further to a tube station further west. Was I trying to avoid the overly crowded and tourist-y Bond st station (a mere 5 min walk from work) out of fear or just not wanting to do the usual push through the crowd. I wasn't sure - but it felt right. The security and police presence could be felt beefed up as I made my usual trek past the Italian and American Embassies and onto Oxford street.
Updates trickled in, and I watched the profile pictures on my newsfeed slowly change to red,white and blue. My timeline was divided into 3 parts; selfies taken in front of the Eiffel tower in 2007, criticism over the lack of support for other attacks, and regular old weekend party pics.
none of it felt right to me. I suppose we all have our own ways of dealing with things, but a lengthy post with the subtext "I've been to Paris before!" says more about one's vanity that it does charity.
On the other hand, party pics and cocktail shots didn't have me double-tapping either.
I'll admit, I posted my own glittering picture of the Eiffel tower on FB ( I took it last summer, and there was no question whether I should post this one or the one with me standing in front) This was not the time for an #OOTD, but I'll admit I did post it because I felt I had to say something on the topic, and since I wouldn't be deleting my earlier post - at the very least this new picture would push it further down. My heart was heavy with the news and without getting into the nitty-gritty and back and forth on FB... sharing this glittering beacon of hope and iconic monument was the least I could do.
The party pics were sent to me and those would definitely have to wait. When asked why I wouldn't be posting pictures from friday night's party just yet, I replied, "It just doesn't feel right- right now."
It's a crazy world we live in where we need to issue "official" comments or mini-press releases via our social media channels. I'm not saying I'd like to see more selfies or cat videos (in fact can we pump the brakes on those). I just like to treat social media conversations as I do IRL, no speaking of politics, religion or abortion. It's a simple formula that's worked for me. I also don't care to discuss sexual orientation or labels in general. but thats a story for another time.
While Paris and Beirut were heavy on my mind - I decided to unplug saturday evening and prepare for my shoot. I cancelled my plans and got to work.
after 8+ hours on set, I was ready to reconnect and meet a new friend for drinks.
But as luck and my dear pals over at Apple would have it - I would be unplugging (cellularly at least) for a bit longer.
All 3 of the iphone lightning cables I packed have decided that today they will no longer work.
2 of these hadn't even been unpacked/ used since I got here.
with my phone at 1% and on airplane mode, I knew I was missing out on plans I'd made earlier - I also knew I had no way of contacting this person and even if I did - I certainly would not be venturing out with a paperweight for an iPhone. As they say, "everything happens for a reason".
Another day (sorta) off the grid.