The End

Can you picture what will be
So limitless and free

Did I tell you I went to Jim Morrison’s gravesite?

Weird scenes inside the gold mine indeed.

I have no idea if Pere Lachaise cemetery was west of our hotel or not. I just plotted it out on the Metro map and went. I insist on using public transportation, I like to experience a city from the viewpoint of its inhabitants, I like to figure out the game of the grid, I feel triumphant when I get to my destination. Although I was flummoxed the day before on my way from the Pompidou to the Louis Vuitton, I was deep in the bowels of the city and I couldn’t figure out which direction to take and I didn’t want to be late, but I made my best guess and eventually made it not only to my destination but the jitney that took me to the museum on time.

But this was a day later. I was surprised Felice wanted to go. She ultimately said the cemetery was the highlight of last year’s Paris trip. I recommend it.

So the Metro is underground and then it’s aboveground, in a neighborhood you’d prefer not to live in, tourists usually only see the spiffed-up parts of a city, ones peppered with cafes and attractions, whereas this looked like a place people actually lived.

But we were in search of the dead.

Not that cemeteries usually creep me out. There was one down the street when I grew up, I used to ride my bike there all the time, it was peaceful. But as I get closer to the end of the line I can see myself in residence, I don’t often go, my mother has never been to my father’s gravesite since his burial, I went, it was really creepy, his name was on the stone but to think he was buried below in a deteriorated state…it was him but not him and it’s almost like he was standing next to me reflecting how bizarre it was, my father would have booked, he was not one for nostalgia, to wallow in not only the past but down times, he always put a smile on his face and marched forward, which is probably why I’m just the opposite.

So there’s a conflict as to which stop to get off at. But the great thing about the Metro is no stop is that far from another. We took the wrong one, and walked down the avenue, following the bars, looking for the entrance. Google Maps help so much. Do you know the blue dot moves even when you don’t have internet access? You’re always worried about that overseas, the data charges, especially with an iPhone, which eats up bandwidth when you think it’s asleep.

And one thing my research had told me was to buy a map, which seemed superfluous, what with the phone and so much online help, but it was the wisest decision I made, without it I wouldn’t have found a single grave, it’s an endless maze of paths, some paved, some not, a hillside of stones, big and small, with no delineation as to who is legendary and who is not.

Jim Morrison is off the beaten path. Halfway up the hill, not on a main drag, he’s in a cluster of headstones, you wonder how they fit all the bodies in. You expect something special, but if there weren’t the flowers and token gifts left by admirers you’d have no idea someone important was buried there.

And then we stumbled into so many people we knew. Claude Chabrol was perched overlooking the city. I used to see his flicks when reading subtitles separated intellectuals from the hoi polloi, before everybody stopped going to the movies and the only people in the theatre were teenagers and those who did not get the memo.

And Oscar Wilde reminded me of that hot night in the seventies, when I went with Fredda to see someone do his act at USC.

And then you get into it, you want to hit as many of the highlights as possible. The adventure is in finding them, but there’s satisfaction when you see their name engraved in stone. Whether it be Edith Piaf or Alice B. Toklas, Marcel Proust or Honore de Balzac. Pam is criticized for interring Jim’s body in this foreign graveyard, but you spend some time there and you think you want to be buried there too, that it’s a special place.

But before we were done, after we’d climbed to the top, seen the memorials to the war dead, viewed a funeral, I insisted on seeing Morrison’s grave once again.

And I’d be lying if I told you it was a thrilling moment, a supernatural escapade wherein I channeled the rock god. Rather I felt almost nothing, other than his death was a waste, having died at 27, having failed to have years of experiences, never mind grace us with more music, it’s too young to have such a misadventure, live long enough and you’re stunned how young that is. It made me truly grateful that I was still alive, that I’d endured the trials and tribulations, had a life, because it ends for everyone and then you’re truly done.

It’s the end.

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