Moving to a new city in a new country where I don’t speak the language has been a lot to navigate. Moving across the world and then reading about current events in the U.S. and experiencing the terrorist attack in Barcelona has been more than I’ve been able to fully comprehend.
I was home alone when the first attack occurred. I was sitting at my kitchen table, eating ravioli, when my I received a text from my friend telling me not to go to Las Ramblas because there was a terrorist attack, a car crashed people all the way down.
My heart jumped. My hands started to shake. Immediately, I checked the news. Nothing was out yet.
I texted my roommates and all of my friends to let them know.
My mind raced: Is this a real attack? Or an accident? I flashed back to September 11th when I questioned the same thing. It is probably an attack.
I opened my computer and watched the events unfold.
The attacks happened about two miles from my apartment. I could hear the emergency team responses, but I was safe.
Several of my friends were right there. They were ushered into buildings, and told to wait.
Friends who lived nearby witnessed the police create blockades, set up checkpoints, and search the streets.
But we were all okay.
Scared, shaken, and saddened, but okay.
The next morning, I had an early flight to Paris. It felt confusing to be leaving the city in such a time of crises and greif. Would public transportation be working? Would planes be taking off? Was the airport safe? Was it okay to leave?
Ultimately, I decided the strongest act of reclamation against terror I could do was to make my plans happen, as close to exactly as I had arranged, before the attacks occurred.
I called a cab and got on the plane.
While I enjoyed Paris (I was there visiting the city with good friends from the states) my heart was heavy. There were memorials being assembled in Las Ramblas; there was a moment of silence for those who were lost and injured; there were conversations on the streets, in coffee shops, and around the city talking about what happened and how to move forward, and I was missing all of that.
I was struggling to move forward without being in Barcelona to witness the aftermath of the attacks and process what happened.
Yesterday, I got this much-needed community time.
Barcelona held a “No tinc por” solidarity march. No tinc por means “I am not afraid” in Catalan. People from all over the area (500,000 of us according to this Aljeezera news article) came together to march for peace and to show life will continue to thrive in our city.
The march left me humbled, hopeful, and reflective. Peoples lives were lost. Terrorism around the world continues to grow. Nations need to figure out how to work together to communicate and address these very real threats.
But for now, we are here. We are alive. This is our community. And we have lives to live, and work to do.
Thank you to everyone who reached out to me during this time. I really appreciate the support, care, and conversations we’ve had to process these events. This story wouldn’t be complete without a shout-out to my mom, who called me as soon as she learned what happened and spent hours on video-chat with me watching and processing events as they unfolded. Your hugs were felt from far away.
If you are interested in reading more about the march, check out the article, “‘No Tinc Por’ demonstration fills Barcelona; king and Spanish PM Rayjoy booed” by Marta Lasalas in El Nacional.cat.