If I had written this before Friday, these would have been different words.
It would have been called: Millions of French Women and My Mother Can’t Be Wrong: Why I Started Wearing Red Lipstick. It would have been mostly about that beauty staple of French women’s lips and would have featured a quote I read once: French women wear jeans like an evening gown and an evening gown like jeans. It would have been joyous and a little cheeky and would have ended with me taking a fish gape (or that oh so retro duckface) selfie with red lipstick on.
But after Friday, red lipstick seems frivolous and suffering in so many places feels overwhelming.
You’ve probably heard this from a lot of Americans since Friday, Paris, but I was in New York during September 11th. My sister, two friends, and I walked from Midtown over the Manhattan Bridge to get back to Brooklyn. We stopped in Chinatown on the way in need of shoes to replace the heels Juliette and I had worn to work that day. The whole experience was surreal and remains so in my memory.
Just a little over a week before Friday, I had walked your streets, eaten in your cafes, and searched to find the best macarons. You made me feel better about myself, less weighed down by the questions I’m trying to answer in my life. And freer.
I felt so free.
So, when I got a news alert on Friday about the terrorist attacks, I stopped where I stood on State Street in Chicago. I worried about the friends of friends I’d met up with and the hosts I’d had at my Airbnb apartments. I wondered about families I had seen on Le Metro, vintage shop owners in Montmartre, and the jazz lovers of many ethnicities and a range of ages who had come out on a Tuesday night, my last night.
And I finally understood that night why people talked about you with dreams in their eyes.
I’m sorry to see this happen to you. To you and to so many places.
I want to write about frivolous things like red lipstick again.
Or maybe those things aren’t so frivolous. My mother believes that a woman shouldn’t leave the house without lipstick and earrings on, that this is the way you prepare to step out into the world. And so, I hope your women are still putting on their red lipstick. And women in Beirut and in Garissa and before in London and Madrid and in New York and DC are all finding ways to go outside and live their lives.