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Jim Morrison was a mess. He was also brilliant, jaded, a storming orbit of magnitude, and lost. I was a mess, but I don’t have any of the brilliance or natural attraction that Jim possessed. However, I was jaded and I am definitely lost.
In Paris, I actively planned to visit my friend. I made it unbelievably clear to my father that I was not visiting Jim as a tourist, but as a friend who desired to share a moment. At the grocer’s, I knew whatever flowers I purchase could not be elegant or luxurious because that was not Jim. I also could not simply buy any bourbon because although I was visiting a friend, I knew I needed to show respect for the Lizard King and Jack Daniels was a requirement.
Jim and I are also brats. We come from good backgrounds, but just could not be happy with what we have or even be comfortable. His father was an admiral who hoped for similar ambitions from his son, but his son outwardly denied his parents even being alive when asked. My father is not an admiral... but he is a prosecutor and he has been doing it for decades. I never deny his existence or lie about his occupation, but I almost never unilaterally bring it up or mention to people at parties and bars that I am in law school until asked. It is not a shameful topic, but it is isolating and once it’s out... well, it’s out. People begin asking you all sorts of legal questions, make assumptions about the person you are, and want you to live according to an arbitrary standard. There’s no going back and people start questioning how a law student wants to spend hours a day researching artists and playing records. The answer is simple! I’m Ethan Gad and I am not law school. Jim Morrison was Jim Morrison and not his father.
As I sat in the shuttle on the way to Jim, I was shaking and quite nervous. I began asking myself, “What if he does not like me?” and “Am I a total idiot for thinking like that about a dead guy and buying him flowers with bourbon?” My father loves to talk. Anyone who knows a few sentences in English is fair game for my dad. However, I cannot remember a single word that he shared with our driver. Honestly, I did not care about what they talked about because it was not important. The goal was to get to Jim and finally see my friend.
Jim was obsessed with death and became fueled by despair, while my mentality dissolved into total apathy. He often recollected a time of his childhood where he passed by an accident with dying Native Americans, which resonated with him for the rest of his life. Chaos and the unknown use to inspire him, but eventually, they became staples of dreadful insignificance. It did not matter when the music’s over.
I had a terrible year or so prior to this pilgrimage. Or actually, things have been rocky since I was seventeen when my mother passed away of an unprovoked disease, but recent times had proven to dampen my perception to an incredible extent. My girlfriend of over two years left me right before my first finals of law school. Breakups suck, everyone knows that...but she actually cheated and left me for another law student who is ten years my senior, bald, as well as blind. To make matters worse, he and I were friends and that is how she met him. To make matters ridiculous, I was his emergency contact for a year, helped him set up his apartment as well as phone, and actively drove him around. To make matters unbearable, he actively tried to fondle and flirt with my girlfriend who told me to allow him because she pitied him. She begged me to always be kind and patient with him because of his disability, which he used to his advantage while he drunkenly belittled people and showcased rage when anyone chose to not be a disciple of his immaculate being. A surreal test of maturity was to accept that they both lied to me for months and thought I would never find out even though he and I go to the same law school, as well as live in the same apartment complex. I eventually followed him out of the café of our apartment complex when my instincts would not give and saw her waiting for him in her vehicle. Spontaneously, “No Expectations” by the Rolling Stones came on my Spotify. I stood and watched her with my breakfast flatbread that was slowly becoming mush from the overindulgence of gravy. She hid below the steering wheel and allowed him to aimlessly wander the parking lot until she finally realized that I was not going anywhere. She stared at me with sad bulbs...not sorrow because of how I felt, but for finally being caught. She meekly waved and I waved back. Her boyfriend continued to stroll with a confused face, and kept calling her. The chaotic unknown had taken my mother and it wanted more. There is no control. It is irrelevant how much you give or what you want. We don’t matter. Jim knew that and I was barely accepting it. The lack of power corroded us.
We had no idea where to go when we got to an entrance of the graveyard. There were so many fucking dead people. The map was helpful, but definitely not sufficient. This is when we obnoxiously approached French strangers until one was able to simply point a finger down a specific path. There was a small, yet consistent stream of people walking in and out of this direction. I knew we found it.
Like Jim with film school, I soon realized that I did not really care about becoming a conventional attorney. It is easy to repeat to oneself that something like school is only for a few years, but if you do not like the process, who cares about the product? With a total lack of meaning, life becomes unbearable. It becomes unbearable because it is no longer life, but just waking up, shitting, eating, and sleeping. I did not begin to own my peace of mind until I went back to my first love, which is music. I did not know how to appreciate it more until I went home one day to help my father set up his turntable. We had to make sure it worked properly, so I grabbed this LP of Let It Be that I bought when I was thirteen or fourteen. Why did I buy that without a turntable at the age of thirteen? Well, because I was obsessed with the Beatles! I spent almost all of my free time and money on their music, biographies, pictures, movies, etc. When “Two of Us” began, I suddenly felt weightless and totally hooked. My addiction began and helped me find happiness regardless of any external factor. People underestimate music, but it is one of the few things that anyone can enjoy in any mood...it can be very personal and reflective to even political and therapeutically expressive.
His grave was cluttered with junk. There was graffiti and gum on the walls. I loved it, but expected more. I had always heard of people drinking, fucking, and drugging at his grave. It was suppose to be ceremonial almost like his concerts. I guess it was on me to begin.
Neither of my parents really cared about the Doors, but I became hooked after I listened to their debut album in its entirety. I began to look for interviews, movies, and any secondhand album I could find at record stores. I could not believe what I was experiencing. Their songs were introspective and soothing, yet stimulating. Give me a few drinks and play any of their songs... I emulate Jagger’s moves, but slither like Morrison with Mercury’s vibes. While their music and going out with friends distracted me as well as helped, I knew I needed a revival. Like Morrison, I went to France to find my muse for life.
I was glad that I grabbed cups from our hotel room or else we would have been drinking straight from the bottle. For every toast I made, I poured some on the ground for Jim, which irked my fiscally responsible father. I simply reminded him, “This whiskey is for him.” We definitely needed music, so I played a few of my favorites such as “L.A. Woman," “Not to Touch the Earth," and “The Ghost Song” from An American Prayer. I danced as I drank. My father waddled and sipped. We could hear Spanish, French, and German. There were stares. I did not care. An older German man was rhythmically moving to the music, so I offered him a drink from an extra glass I had. He welcomed the moment and for a few minutes, we shared an existence. I threw the flowers over the small fence that blocked his grave and they landed in their own unshared, dignified, area. We left the grave with a considerable buzz, and I felt cleansed as well as weightless. I finally got to meet Jim and give him the respect he deserves.
Shortly before he went to France, Jim allegedly felt crushed by a perception shared by the masses. It’s true that he earned this reputation as a clown with substance abuse, but he was so many other things that people do not focus on. He was a sensitive intellectual with a poetic soul who wanted to shed boundaries and explore. The tragedy is that he went out of his way to begin something that was totally different from his background, only to be trapped by his own creation with expectations he did not want to own. Jim did not like the product of his ambitions and unfortunately, somewhere along the way, he lost his sense of meaning as he rapidly burned so brightly. Now, do not quote me because I am not Jim and this is merely the interpretation my simple mind made. However, I felt like I related to him and his music took me places that I did not know exist. That feeling is incomparable to anything else. I’m glad that I was finally able to see my friend and share a moment.
I am still lost, but I do not really consider that a bad thing anymore...in a way, it really is exciting. I have the world in front of me with so many different paths I can take. I do not have an ultimate goal of a specific title or role, which is kind of great. There are no constraints and I do not care about the expectations placed on me. Like Jim, I just want to be true to my own spirit. I am not going to let other people or even myself, ruin that. I have the globe and I own my peace of mind.