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Sunday, August 12, 2012

Jim And The Camera

When we were on the trip to Europe that has been mentioned previously, I really wanted to go to Père-Lachaise cemetery in Paris. Julie wanted to go as well, so we left Liz and Marie at the Eiffel Tower and forged ahead. If you are thinking we are morbid or weird to spend time visiting a cemetery, I beg to differ with you. A cemetery as old as Père-Lachaise is full of history. Whether you love history, politics, art, music, or literature, there is someone there you have heard of. And the gravestones, crypts, and statuary are beautiful as well. Julie had a few specific graves she wanted to see, including Camille Pisarro and Colette, and I wanted to see Jim Morrison (of The Doors, if you can't place the name) and Edith Piaf, among others. As we made our way through this city of the dead we saw many lovely monuments. The trees cast dappled shadows over us as we searched for the people we wanted to find. Considering that it is located in one of the largest cities in the world, it was an amazingly quiet and peaceful place. 

When we reached Morrison's grave, I noticed once again something that had bothered me throughout our trip. There were many people who had cameras and were taking lots of pictures, and I will freely admit to being one of them. Photographs help preserve our memories, and also allow us to share them with others. But the thing that really bothered me was that some people never really stopped to take in what they were visiting. They were visiting the Louvre or the Cathedral of Notre Dame or even Père-Lachaise cemetery and not even looking at anything other than the display screen on their camera. Me at The Louvre: standing in wonder as I view incredible works of art, and then photographing them. Them at The Louvre: whistling at people to get out of their way while looking at the back of their camera to take a photo. It made me feel two quite different things. One was pity for them for not being there fully for their trip. I felt that I was building memories while they were building a photo file. The second thing was an overwhelming urge to say, "Hey! Don't whistle at me! I am a human, not a dog! And I don't even treat my dog as rudely as you are treating me!" But I remained a true lady and simply glared at them, or smiled and stayed right where I was.

So Julie and I kept back while people flitted in front of us to see Jim's grave through their cameras. When they left, we enjoyed a few minutes peacefully soaking in the atmosphere. I could feel his presence, and his amusement and dismay at the way people were acting. "They just don't get it," I felt him thinking. We moved on to find a few more of the graves we wanted to see, and had found all but Edith Piaf. We were in a lovely central area with a grassy park and people enjoying themselves and picnicking or just resting in the afternoon sun. It was absolutely lovely. We were so close to nature that Julie even got pooped on by a passing bird. I'm serious! I have photographic evidence, but I am not going to publish it willy-nilly. She took it like a champ, and laughed it off. Things like that tend to happen with her and animals.

We looked at our maps and found that of course Edith Piaf was at the farthest corner and in the opposite direction from where we needed to go. We were also running short on time to reunite with our travel mates. Julie was willing to go the distance, but I made the decision to just head out. All the time we had been at the cemetery, I had kept my camera strapped securely on my wrist. I pulled my tote bag off my shoulder and put my hand in the bag to drop the camera in. The camera ended up on the ground, not shattered, but still unusable. I heard Jim Morrison's voice in my head saying, "You got what you came for, Babe, you don't need any pictures of that wrinkled old prune." And like Julie, I just had to laugh. He was right.

If you go to Paris, you might want to consider going to see amazing and beautiful places like Notre Dame, The Louvre, or even Père-Lachaise. Just remember that even though you may have a firm grip on it, you might have to deal with Jim and the camera.