First Words — 02 December 2015
The editor’s letter: Joie to the world 

By Mark Gauert

I remembered the moment I heard the news.

In line for coffee at Starbucks down the street from my office. Just like the morning before. Just like the years of mornings before that.

“A plane just flew into the World Trade Center,” someone said, tapping my shoulder. I’m not sure how he knew. Back then, my children, we did not have mobile devices streaming our news, updating us on Facebook or Twitter, as we stood in line for our morning coffee.

Back at the office, the TVs were tuned to the smoking heights of the North Tower. I was there with my coffee cold when the second plane struck the South.

I remembered the moment when I heard the news from Paris.

In line at Publix down the street from my home. Just another after-work run for groceries. Just like years of grocery runs before that.

This time, my children, the news tapped me on the wrist. “Explosions at Paris stadium and bar reported,” the news updated my watch as we stood in line with our groceries.

Back at home, the TV was tuned to the smoking depths of the Bataclan. I was there with my groceries warming when I heard about Le Carillon, Le Petit Cambodge, the Comptoir Voltaire.

I had family in New York City the morning the towers fell. I had family in France the evening gunsmoke rose in the City of Light.

It was hours before I got in touch with my wife in New York after 9/11. Almost a week before she made it home safe, driving a rented car 24 hours straight from JFK.

It was hours before I got in touch with my family and friends in France. The younger people were easier to reach, my children, because they could take to Facebook and mark themselves as safe. The elders, the ones who don’t like Facebook or prefer not having mobile devices streaming their news, were harder to find.

Finally, hours after the attacks, an old-fashioned e-mail from the last members of the family unaccounted for.

“We are at home, and watching and following the news,” my wife’s father wrote from Paris. “We were expected at noon for lunch in Reims, but at this time we don’t know if it’s possible to go out.”

A few hours later, a photograph attached to another e-mail tapped my wrist. My mother and father-in-law, safe, sitting at a table right on schedule with their friends in Reims. Big smiles, all around.

Lunch, as an act of defiance. Some pictures are worth a thousand words.

And some, far more.

A few days after the attacks, as we stood in line for our morning coffee down the street from my office, there was another tap on my wrist from a friend posting in Paris.

“We need more music. Kisses. Life. Champagne and Joy!” she shared.“#ParisIsAboutLife.”

Here’s to that, I thought, as I went back to edit the holiday issue of the magazine. Here’s to the exuberant appreciation of life.

In all of our moments remembered.

 

— mgauert@cityandshore.com

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