Ah, sweet sixteen.
It was 1991 but I kept hoping fervently that it would somehow revert to 1967.
I had just discovered The Doors. It was an obsession I flung myself into whole-heartedly.
I dissected the lyrics, read everything I could find about the enigmatic Morrison, bought a book of his poetry, and started writing my own dark, swirling verses – while sitting buddha-like on the grassy hill in our local park. Not quite Venice Beach, but I was working with what I had.
I needed to look the part, so I went through our cedar closet and claimed my mother’s chocolate coloured velvet bell bottoms and matching turtleneck blouse. She even consented to make me a ruffled baby blue paisley shirt from one of her old patterns.
I hung out at Toronto’s Kensington Market, made strings upon strings of beads and generally did what I could to absorb an era that was by then, long gone.
Ah the innocence of sixteen.
That same year, The Doors movie starring Val Kilmer and Meg Ryan was released (after my obsession was in full swing, I hasten to add, as though that makes me cooler or something). I was in good company, I guess. It was, after all, the 20th anniversary of Morrison’s death, a perfect opportunity to cash in and win over a whole new generation of susceptible and disenchanted minds.
For that birthday, I was given a copy of John Densmore’s new autobiography, Riders on the Storm: My Life with Jim Morrison and The Doors, but the cover had been replaced with one that superimposed my face and my name over his.
So, people had noticed my (unhealthy?) obsession.
Of course, at the time, I thought I was terribly original and creative and grown up.
But for all that naive, adolescent hero worship, my interest in The Doors did feed my mind, my creativity, my dreams for the future, and my world view.
I worked my way through Morrison’s reading list, discovering Rimbaud, Camus, Nietzsche, Ginsberg, Colin Wilson’s The Outsider, Balzac, Cocteau, Moliere, and falling in love with Kerouac. I read up on Plutarch and Greek mythology and then Roman mythology.
Finally, I had found philosophies that resonated, people with whom I could identify.
I began to write in earnest, everything from poetry to short stories. I still remember writing this early one in the spring of 1991:
Reality vs. Perception
Lonely walks along the river of death,
hand in hand with the martyr,
her saviour from the abyss.
Deep trenches in the road,
the black hole of a universal mind.
Streams flow thru;
the vulgar, random thoughts of humanity.
The trees of reality strike up against the rocks of perception.
A fierce battle
anger bent into frenzy.
The sky burns fire.
the liquidation of ideas
a new consciousness and
dull gossamer radiating a black glow.
Objects of small imagery piece together and collide-
a cataclytic monument.
The wild is a live in the presence of the wolves,
it leaps in the dank depths of night.
I read it to my grade 10 English class; I’m not sure what they, or the teacher, made of it. But I was proud and on my way, I was sure, to becoming a writer.
Though my writing has changed over the years (I hope!), my dream of becoming a writer began then, in 1991. And many of the passions I still hold dear today – my love of history, mythology, and music – were fed by the reading and writing and listening I did at that time, inspired by The Doors.
I still love their music, too. The poetry of Moonlight Drive, Soul Kitchen, Waiting for the Sun, The Crystal Ship, The Soft Parade, Peace Frog, Wild Child…ok, too many to name…the point is, their poetry rivals any of my beloved English-majorly classics.
Maybe I was wiser then than I have given myself credit for. Clearly, I was onto something.