This is a continuation of the previous post, which got way too long while I was writing during my 4,256 hours of delay between Charlotte and Chicago last night. I paid the extra 10 € to keep my bike for the rest of the day and took the opportunity to make my way up to Père Lachaise cemetery in the 20th arrondissement. But not before I took a wrong street off the Bastille’s traffic circle and wound up in the middle of a pretty unsavory area. Quick travel tip: If you’re in Paris and see a KFC or Pizza Hut? Run.
Of all the places I could have gone, why a cemetery? Quiet, for one thing. Absolutely no one around, except for the few people sitting among the tombstones — hey, morbid — and the paparazzi-caliber group of revelers hovering around Jim Morrison’s grave. That, of course, is the other reason I’d gone: After seeing where Jim Morrison died on the morning’s tour, I thought, “Why not see where he’s buried, too?” I wandered among the graves for about an hour and a half before I found it snapped the picture I’d promised my rock-star friend.
Looking at the names and epitaphs, written in every language, it was hard not to sit for hours and imagine the life stories. It’s what I do. There were crumbling headstones covered in moss, dating back to hundreds of years ago, mixed in with polished marble tombs erected in the past ten. One woman had laid fresh flowers on a grave and was brushing off the leaves and dust that had gathered since her last visit with a small broom; I saw another man walking up a path toward a gravesite with two watering cans to tend.
Some of the newer graves had enameled photos above the name of the person who had died, and some of the oldest were so desecrated with etchings and obscene graffiti that they should just be knocked down and the memory of whomever it belonged to preserved in another way. How sad.
I want to be cremated.