Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Wilde in the Rain

I will never think of Paris without rain. Cold rain trickling down my nose, making its way under my cheap, yellow poncho that says Paris! on the back. Trickles of rain as we sat inside a restaurant. Sheets of rain as soon as we emerged. It was a live entity this rain. Stalking us, lying in wait until we came outside at its mercy.

Cascades of rain as we waited in the longest line in the world, to the top of the Eiffel Tower. Perhaps it mocked us for our tourist follies. It certainly was malicious. Blown sideways into my face on the second level, open to the elements, beading on the glass windows at the top.

Rain...rain...rain, as we walk down the narrow pathways of the cemetery. Glistening on Oscar Wilde's tomb. "You are my hero," says a scrawl in red. Hundreds of lipsticked kisses (indelible marks, Lonely Planet tells us) decorate the block of rock with a large winged creature springing from it.

A page with his photograph, its edges ragged, dripping with water. A candle extinguished long-ago, a red rose with all its petals blown off save one. Wilde's grave is a favorite spot for gay men. They kiss the grave, try to have sex on it...and commune with him in some way.

Jim Morrison's grave is hidden away. We approach a guard, "Excuse me?" in English. "Morrisson?" he says and laughs.

We find it. It's small but there is a small gate leading to it. A bottle of whiskey leans drunkenly, the joints lie soaking and unusable. "Jim, Oh Jim," says a woman in her 50's to a man who will forever be 27 to her.

Respect for the dead, the signs inform us, is to not deface their graves. But they forget to write about love for the dead.

As strange as it was to me that a woman would cry at a stranger's grave as if he had died yesterday or that others would have sex (very uncomfortably) on another's grave, there is something haunting about their love. It is not amorphous and abstract. They actually feel some real connection, some link that reaches across the years and makes their feelings current and makes the dead come alive...for an instant.

My shirt is soaked. There are tears in my poncho already (6 Euros well spent). I lift my face into the rain and lick the drops off my lips. And I feel alive.

I wonder if the sun ever shines in Paris. It'll always rain in Paris for me.

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