Monthly Archives: September 2010

Tracks laid across landscapes

traveling through towns and villages and

countrysides spotted with evidence of human habitation.

Arrived at the depot carrying backloads and armfuls

of our minimum possessions.

Through cobblestone streets where passersby looked on in curiosity.

The climbing rope, tied to the outside of the pack,

telling a tale of what we seek to do.

Through a large wooden door on the street

up polished slabs of camel colored stairs.

Winding upward to another door where we can stay the night,

before retracing our steps.

Down stairs, out of doors, across streets to a bus

that took us through more of the countryside.

Into the hills and slopes of mountains with walls

made by the earth of limestone rock.

Arrived in Gap with stomachs empty

and the heavy loads pulling us inward.

We sit at tables eating kebab until full

from which we continued out trek on up the hill.

Thumbing a ride at the edge of town.

A middle-aged woman, Vivian, transported us

to the camping at the base of Ceuse.

Cimetiere du Pere Lachaise

The place where James Douglas Morrison, better known as Jim Morrison, lies to rest. His body entombed under cement and granite, engraved with the dates of his 27 year human existence. Vandalized and idolized. Crowds of people from across the globe stand in awe of this small landmark, barricaded and hidden by the larger tombs.  Snapping pictures, smoking cigarettes, conversing in hushed voices as if afraid to raise the dead. What is it that we come here to find? An understanding of what it was like to be Jim Morrison? Clues to a past? Hints for a future? A glimpse of mortality? Or perhaps a longing for something, a seeking of connection to an era, to an idea, to a way of life and a way to express ourselves? Or is it as simple a thing as just another site to see, a tourist trap like the Eifel Tower? The answer isn’t so clear to me as I try to soul search myself for the reason I wandered around in search of this grave. As cliché as it may sound I felt propelled to go there, to pay my respect, to a man who tried to break free of the ideals and confines that society has installed. He tried and in many ways he succeeded. And in those successes he made a deep and profound impression on an entire world and I find that to be quite noble, even though in the end he was perhaps his own worse enemy, trapped by his own ideals with a longing to escape.

A Smell is in the Air

The plane lurched forward as it hit the ground waking me from a fitful sleep as we pulled in to the gate, arriving in Belgium. The flight across the Atlantic somehow seemed to go by faster than I realized and soon I was exiting the plane down a brightly lit hallway which spilled out onto the cold slab of the Brussels airport. Many flights had arrived at the same time and we were being herded into lines determined by citizenship. Those with European passports to the left all others to the right. I was tired and excited and thankful to not be sitting any longer. Once I had secured a nice spot in line I lowered my bags to the ground and stretched my arms up towards the ceiling, my spine stretching and popping back into its upright position. With my arms in the air a strong aroma rose up from the depths of my arm pits. As it inhabited my nostrils my thoughts were, “whew, stinky.” Next to me in the line for Euros about three feet away I noticed a man catch the smell as well and wondering where it came from, fearing that it came from himself he opened his sweater and smelled his own armpits. He shrugged his shoulders, a bit bewildered and seemingly relieved as he realized it was not he who smelt so strongly. I found these first moments in Europe to be a bit ironic; because in the States it seems to be common thought that Europeans tend to be the stinky ones. And yet here I was, turning the table around – perhaps I would be fitting in just fine.