Sunrise in Paris

This blog post is more like the original version of a “blog” – a “web log,” an unedited, diary-like post instead of a carefully thought-out, search-engine-optimized gem of thought leadership.

Last night in Paris was a fairly ordinary evening for a business traveler. I had arrived in Paris at 8:40 a.m. to coordinate my company’s presence at EWEA, one of the wind industry’s most prominent annual conferences. I had spent the day going from airport to hotel to our company’s Paris office to gather together the things we’d need on our stand, ranging from a demo unit of our data logger to two large boxes of Finnish chocolate to give to attendees. I had dinner at a cheap sandwich shop, thinking I must be the dorkiest person in Paris right now.

Friends, family, and colleagues had urged me: “Have a good time in Paris!” It was a Friday night! But I was tired. And my partner, Nathaniel, had given me a whopper of a lecture about staying safe, with his unique combination of sternness and love. So I went all out: I stopped for an espresso and pastry across the street from the hotel at 6 p.m.

At about 10 p.m., wired to the hilt from the espresso but exhausted from a missed night of sleep, I found a “Yoga to go to sleep” routine on Youtube. I was sitting cross-legged on the floor with one arm extended over my head in a pose that should be called “Awkward Bird” when my phone rang. “Are you all right?” demanded one of my friends back home. “Yes, why?”

I spent the next few hours speaking (chatting, posting, tweeting…) with friends, loved ones, and colleagues. For the second night in a row, I haven’t slept much. My emotions are hard to fathom, ranging from numbness (‘how many people got killed?’) to breaking out in sobs when my colleague Niina texted me from home saying her thoughts were with me. The expressions of simple concern (“are you all right? stay safe!”) touch me. I’m more worried about my family and what they are feeling than I am about anything else. Not being fluent in French is challenging because the local news is more informative than CNN, from the perspective of what’s actually going on here.

There’s nothing I can do for the time being, except wait for other people to make decisions – whether it’s safe to go to the conference center now, whether the conference will in fact be cancelled, and so on. Two days ago I was excited for the conference to start – now I wish I were at home with my family.

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