Disaster Relief in Paris

by Cathy Arden on March 29, 2013

I’m always thinking of the next possible disaster, the one that hasn’t happened yet. Am I alone in this? I keep my phone charged to 100%, my gas tank full, my land line phone charged & handset always on the charger, my laptop, iPad – all devices, charged to full capacity.  Because…well…you never know.  I really only have a land line because someone once told me you need it in order to dial 911.  I don’t think this is actually the truth.  But I’m at the ready.  I drain electricity in order to be prepared.  I destroy batteries prematurely.  I keep my life charged to full capacity as well. At one time in my life I moved from one side of the Atlantic ocean to the other, USA to France, and ten years later I moved from one side of the country to the other.   When I first moved to California from New York, I made sure to get to bed early every night.  You know why?  I was afraid an earthquake would occur in the middle of the night, that I might be trapped, and that I should be fully rested if that’s the case.  In Oliver Stone’s movie, WORLD TRADE CENTER, Nicholas Cage’s character fights to keep his buddy alive under the rubble until they are rescued, because sleeping would mean death. I’m afraid that might be me one day, having to stay alive under the rubble.

I moved from a quaint little village on the Hudson River in NY to Paris when my children were 8 and 12 years old.   My children, who were both fascinated and horrified when they heard the news of the move, were later grateful for the experience.  We lived in Paris for one year and my children attended a school in the French system.  It changed all of our lives.  As my son said when we returned, “Nothing is the same since Paris.”  You got that right, kid.  Some people say I am resourceful and that I have the courage to change my life when necessary.  Not much thought goes into these changes, even though many plans have to be made.  I’m good with plans.   But I never know the real reason I’m doing something until I’m on the other side of change.

My first morning in Paris, I woke to the echoing courtyard sounds of French being spoken, dishes rattling, breakfast odors wafting.  The shutters on my bedroom windows were open and the August warmth accompanied the sounds and smells.  I felt something unfamiliar.  I was baffled.  Later I realized it was the first time in my adult life I was experiencing a connection between my inner and outer life.   I was, in fact, happy.  And, for the first time, my disaster mentality disappeared, as relief entered my body along with the French sounds of summer.   I had, indeed, emerged from the rubble.

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Iris March 31, 2013 at 2:02 PM

This reads like a fascinating opening to a book on the life and times of Cathy Arden. I’m anxious to read the next installment.


Cathy May 13, 2013 at 4:15 PM

Iris, you just gave me an idea of how to organize the new book! Thank you!


Barbara Bercu March 31, 2013 at 7:55 PM

Fantastic! You write from your heart and you tell the truth… fearlessly. Bravo.


Amy Louise Pommier April 1, 2013 at 2:52 PM

The image of you opening the shutters is wonderful — letting in signs of life and connecting to them! What many of us would benefit from, I think, is finding our “inner Paris” to connect ourselves to all the time!


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