Made it home Tuesday night just before sunset. I have to say the NJ Turnpike never looked so good.
The trip back to the US took over 18 hours. I stood in a frenzied clot of passengers at the Orly airport in Paris from 6:30 in the morning until 2pm; first waiting to see if I had a seat, and then waiting to see if the plane would take off before the airport shut down again. A woman from the airline came out to make an announcement. No one could hear her. I stepped out of line, leaving my luggage behind me, and walked up closer to hear what she was saying.
What she was saying was that everyone should stay in line. When I turned around I saw that the entire line had collapsed around me and about 300 people had now all rushed forward with their luggage. I went back to get mine and found myself far behind people who had arrived in the line hours after me.
The tension was so high I’m surprised fistfights didn’t break out, especially since I was doing my best to start one.
I finally made it into the boarding area around 2:30. Just before getting on the plane the French Aviation Authority routed us south to Lisbon, Portugal–a 2 hour flight. We made it out just as all the Paris airports started closing again. After re-fueling in Lisbon, we started the crossing to Newark; another 8 1/2 hours in the air. The moment the plane started moving I instantly fell asleep.
My last day in Paris had been a strange one. I walked the city for hours, trying to enjoy myself but wracked with anxiety about having no idea when I’d be getting out. I took this picture. I felt like it really, really expressed my frame of mind.
Got back to the hotel room to find the message urging me to be at the airport at 6:30 am. After quickly packing, I met John for a drink and told him of my pending departure. He still had no ticket out and was not in a good mood.
We sat in the hotel lobby sipping scotch for a half hour. When I mentioned how bewildered I was at the nastiness of some of the US press he quietly urged me to not worry about it. “The press has always loved to hate us,” he said. “You made a great film. There is no question in my mind you were the guy for us. You told our story.”
At that moment I felt a rush of emotion so intense I had to turn away. It was difficult for me to comprehend the man sitting opposite me in his long, silver hair, gathered in the back in a neat ponytail, was one of the guys I never dreamed I’d meet when I was 14 and first listening to the original, long version of “Light My Fire”–that he was John Densmore, the sharp, precisely frenzied drummer I’d been watching on editing and movie screens for almost 2 1/2 years.
I managed to tell him how much I’d come to respect and admire him. We wished each other luck on getting home. Then we embraced and he was gone. When the alarm woke me 5 hours later I was deep in the tendrils of a dream where I was standing on the edge of vast, dark river; peering across it and unable to distinguish anything on the opposite shore.