I find myself sitting at a round table at a café in what is Central Paris. It’s a sunny day. By the position of the sun I would guess it is around 4 pm.
Even more disturbing is the reality sitting across from me sipping on a glass of CC. Jim Morrison is the first “personality” I met after I woke up in the bedroom of the Hotel Cluny where Elie and I had stayed on our first trip to Paris together. Groggy and feeling terribly confused, I could still hear the Doors singing in the background, only this time the music did not originate from a car radio. Slowly getting up from the bed I had moved to the window that as I remember overlooked the Boulevard Saint Michel at the corner of Saint Germain. Looking down toward the corner, I could see that a street performer was doing an uncanny imitation of Jim Morrison singing Light My Fire. I stood there for a long moment unraveling the knot that was the state of my confusion.
I needed to get answers so I gathered myself and went down to the street to make some inquiries. It seemed reasonable to conclude that if anyone could sing so well in English they just might be able to speak it as well. Imagine my surprise, however, that instead of finding an English speaking Morrison impersonator from whom I hoped to get some answers, I found myself talking to the original article.
By my best estimate, that was several hours ago.
I was as yet unaccustomed to the sounds of my surroundings, as a result my first night arrived silently. A gentle mist had given the city street lights a reflective power that mirrored the hues of the Paris night on an impressionist canvass. I was sitting at the café Le Depart Saint Michel in a comfortable and relaxed state. I think I heard church bells that presumably came from Notre Dame and that by my estimation was just around the corner. To my right was the river, directly in front of me was the Boulevard Saint Michel gently sloping uphill towards the Luxembourg Gardens. Kitty corner from my location and slightly to the left stood the giant statue of the Arch Angel Michael, a fountain flowing just below its pedestal. I should be more worried, but for some reason I had this overwhelming peaceful feeling. It is probably likely also that the bottle of wine I had imbibed… or was that two bottles of wine, made the conclusion that I was quickly coming-to about my situation all the more acceptable. Death is not an end but simply a transition. But to what? Wine, croissants and Paris?
I stopped registering Jim Morrison’s ranting. His observations turned into background noise. Instead I became catatonic, fixating on trying to make sense of my situation. I was now pretty sure that I had died and that somehow I had transitioned into… what? Another state of existence?
I am sitting at a Paris café with a long dead icon of rock’n’roll, I thought to myself, my sense of reality is as dead as apparently I am. Yet here I sit! I check my heart beat and pulse, taking a deep breath and feeling my chest expand and then contract, both seem fine.
How odd that death is so much like being alive! In a way it makes our lives, or is it previous life, almost laughable.
Finally, I decide to interject in Morrison’s ceaseless chatter…, who knew the man could talk so much.
“This can’t be right, this is a lie or some kind of medicinally induced hallucination brought on by a mistake in the administration of medication at the hospital.” I think out load.
Morrison looks at me, realizing that my mind is elsewhere and that I have not been listening to anything he has said.
Raising his voice, but not his gaze to get my attention he announces, “The truth is here man!”
“What! What are you talking about? Where is here?” I said with an impatient frustration. My frustration would continue to obscure my understanding of this reality for some time. What I would eventually discover suggested that I should stop seeing things from the reality of my former residence. But for now I needed to follow through on the process of discovery, and that meant I had to listen to the intellectual meanderings of Jim -fucking- Morrison.
“Here… beyond the grave. It’s where we’ll find the truth. You’ve broken through to the other side man.” A toothy grin spreads precociously across his face.
I look at him sternly and decide that even rock icons need to be slapped down. “Jim I have known people who’s conversations are annoyingly cliché, but you’ve just added a whole new level of annoyance.” I cast out to my infamous drinking partner.
“Oh! I don’t follow man?” He hooks himself.
“Well there are not too many people who can both create a cliché and then use it. Maybe that makes you one.” I say, equally prominent smirk. Clearly, Morrison is confused but doesn’t seem to know why.
“Alright, so what you’re saying is I’m dead, but I`m also alive at the same time?” I say, with a tone confirmation.
“Well in a manner of speaking, like I said, if you had been paying attention, nothing really dies! It just changes. But it’s probably more accurate to say you’ve stopped existing in one place and started in another.” He says, by way of explanation.
“I wasn’t paying attention because I don’t understand what you’re talking about! How can I be both dead and alive?” Now it is me who is feeling confused and not a little concerned.
“There is this guy called –Vern, who explains it better, but he says that it’s because we actually exists in all places at all times. But there’s some kind of force that interferes with our ability to experience all places at all times simultaneously.” Morrison says, expanding on the subject.
“What Force?” Feeling as stupid as the question I just asked.
“Sorry man, you would have to ask him. He sometimes hangs out at the Café de Flore with his buddies.”
“So am I really where I think I am?” My was mind losing the battle of profound confusion.
“Well, look around you man” he commanded.
“The other side is Paris?” I said, exclaiming gesturing with my head.
“Right man… Paris! Look man what’s eating you anyway? This is cool, I still don’t understand it all and I’ve been here for a long time.”
“Jim I need to undertsand, it is a problem for me because I can’t stand not knowing.”
“You mean you can stand not controlling!”, and there it was. Someone said that the longer people stayed together the more they morphed into the other and in the afterlife I had morphed into Elie. I needed to know the plot before I actually watched the movie.
“Elie… I miss you how are you? Are you sad do you miss me. Are Tom and Charlie with you? Are the kids ok? I wish I could hug them all. I wish I could hold you again.” Came my thoughts in quick repeatition.
Morrison snapped me out of my reverie when he said, “Hey man, this is not the end my friend.”
“Again with the self made cliché” I said. and I thought to myself, “Dead and Alive… dead and live, dead and alive?” I kept repeating it, not like I was looking for an answer but more like I was flipping through a filing cabinet looking for a long forgot file.
“Dead and alive, hmm”
In his turn, looking both puzzled and hurt, Morrison insists…”Hey, I am not cliché man!”