23 messages on my phone, broken hearted heartbreak, heartache and a huge hole whole where a not so “Private Joy” used 2 be. My cousins all want to know if I’m okay. For the past “17 Days” to that day I haven’t been able to watch the news or even answer the phone. I feel like… giving up, and like… my sunshine has turned to rain. And for the first time EVER in ALL of my purple life, I’m considering getting a tattoo.
How long will I be fucked up … correction, will WE be fucked up over this? I feel as though I should know better than to ask a question such as this, having lost a parent and my beloved grandmother Queen. Getting over members of my own family took me years. But this…this is different. I’d like to think it even a bit strange to feel this way about a man I’ve never even met, but I suppose it absolutely is NOT strange at all.
“I have adored Prince from the moment I heard him confess how he wanted to be my lover. It was everything that my pre-adolescent mind could conceive at that time, about life and living via his talent with the help of American Bandstand, MTV and Soul Train, (the hippest trip in America). I loved him. He was the beautiful one on stage rocking my world in a pair of gold tights, and I had no idea how much of an impact he would have on me throughout this thing called life.”
There’s definitely some selfish pain here that stems from not being able to have had experienced him more than I have. Growing up, I vividly recall “Huxtable” arguments with my mother who would not allow me to attend his concerts. “That skinny freak singing on stage with his draws on???….” She would eloquently scoff. “Oh Noooo!” she resoluted in her unflawed Claire Huckstable fashion. My mother is still to this day, a mixture of Phylicia Rashod and Corretta Scott King, which is an intense and quite a necessary combination for pre-teens who feel like they are “grown and sexy” before even knowing what any of that involves. I missed many a Prince concert because my mother was the law, and that was the end of that. Looking back, I’m sure that the “Rainbow Children” Prince would agree whole heartedly with my mother dear, but I wanted and felt as though I needed to experience him during that “Dirty Mind”, “Controversy”, “Do Me Baby” Rude Boy era of his career. But to no avail, and to this day I have never let my mother forget it. Those were my wonder years, and somehow I just didn’t feel as though I needed to be protected from the likes of Rick James and Prince. And hearing about it from my mates in the cafeteria at lunch the next day just seemed… wrong. However, I will say that the struggle between my mother and I diminished on the day she heard him speaking on Oprah during a rare and exclusive interview. She could not believe how masculine and deep his speaking voice was, and of course as a result of that discovery along with a crowd moving performance by the Pretty Man, she too became a fan. Which inevitably brought she and I closer and has ultimately made our worlds a better place.
Again, I am openly admitting that my pain is purely selfish. Girl on the go that I am, I have often envisioned a time when Prince and I would meet. I’d walk in, he’d wake up and find me to be a natural beauty unaffected, funny, interesting with a quick wit and the cool of Dorothy Parker and an ass like Chelsea Rodgers. I would fantasize about the conversation that would ensue and how I would try my best not to faint the moment he asked me if I dreamed in “W’s”? Only to eventually become comfortable enough to talk SO sexy that he’d want me from my head to my feet! I’d often rehearsed in my head how I would tell him about the time I helped my girlfriend Katrina and her aunt Lydia decorate the Christmas tree one year as “Controversy” blasted through the tower stereo system. I envisioned his approval with the coolest crack of a chuckle the moment I explained to him that my girlfriend's Aunt was absolutely positive that the lyrics were “Count your blessings” instead of “Controversy”. Something that I later learned happened to his lyrics quite often, which he explained during an interview with Tavis Smiley as a guest on his show one night. I wanted more than anything to one day be able to add my story to his list.
Seeing him in concert for the first time ever in 2000 was the closest I ever got to Prince molecules, and I was elated! Ieven ran into one of my best school mates who used to tell me the post show stories in the cafeteria during lunch. I was celebrating a birthday and my first LIVE Prince show was my gift to me! It was during this show that I learned about what I now call “Prince Bombs”. “Prince Bombs” are lyrical nuggets of wisdom and genius that sort of float down out of the sky like soap bubbles and magically pop to apply to whatever is going on your life at that very moment. (As I’m writing this I am now wondering if any of what I just explained has anything to do with his 1985 hit “Pop Life”? But real talk…I want to believe that even in his earthly absence he is floating me yet another bubble, and I feel him here with me right now! *tears*) For example that night, during my first show, he closed with (of course) “Purple Rain” and got to the part in the song that goes: “You say you want a leader but you just can’t seem to make up your mind” and then interjected by saying: “and I’m talking about God…not a President!” I froze in the middle of my cigarette lighter/cell phone sway, and instantly felt changed. The year was 2000, and George Bush had just stolen the election from Al Gore and Prince was indirectly telling us that we didn’t need instill so much faith in a political system that would ultimately fail us. That our leadership was in fact elsewhere and not so much in politics and a pseudo-democracy. Influence from his faith no doubt. And while I don’t believe that he had crossed over to be a full fledged Jehovah witness at that point, it was eye opening for me nonetheless to have experienced him being so knowingly powerful and spiritual right before my very eyes. Boom!
I recall the one other time he burst my bubble. I was in Birmingham, Alabama on a business trip and got asked out by the cute waiter who was about to end his shift. He noticed that I was dining alone and decided to ask me out and show me around the city. Long story short, I ended up at what I guess they considered to be the “make out” point in Birmingham. There was something about the warm air hanging thick with honeysuckle that makes it easy for you to allow a beautiful stranger to kiss you after only knowing them for all of 4 or 5 hours. When all of a sudden, the kiss synchronized with the synthesized keys of the intro to “Lil Red Corvette” as it zoomed over the car speakers and across my brain making me dizzy like it always does immolating America’s sexiest sport scar.
“When Prince sang out : “You’re the kind of girl who believes in making out once, love ’em and leave ’em fast.” I thought to myself “Damn U Prince!” “How do you always do this?”
And boy did he do it! Just like that (snap!) and as effortlessly as one of his high heeled pirouettes on stage and then…POOF!… disappeared into the night leaving an iridescent trail of lavender, lilac and wisteria among the sticky honeysuckle night. When the KISS and the song was over, I had the cute waiter deliver me to my door and thanked him for a magical evening. The next morning, as I stood in the boarding area waiting to board my plane, I smiled as “Lil Red Corvette” looped in my head all the way back home to New York.
I’ll never forget the time when life had gotten ridiculously difficult. It happened sometime after 9–11. New York was a different place, as was the rest of the worlds reality. I had gotten laid off from work, and all of my friends were getting laid off too. The stress of the city can be a monster during times like that. On top of it all my roommates and I were faced with an eviction which was vastly happening throughout Harlem which was being re-discovered and becoming gentrified to better suit “other” folks. Eventually, and magically, we all eventually landed on our feet. I got a new job and a new apartment after couch surfing for about six months straight. A former co worker of mine invited me to go see Prince in Vegas at “Tiger Jam” which was a fundraiser hosted by the then pre-Scandalous Tiger Woods. I remember standing to my feet when Prince exploded on to the stage to perform “Let’s Go Crazy”! Watching him made me feel invincible about having overcome the obstacles I had recently conquered in the face of adversity. It even made me cocky for a brief moment until he sang the lyrics “If you don’t like…the world you’re living in… take a look around…AT LEAST YOU GOT YOUR FRIENDS!” and that’s when the bubble popped, the light bulb went off, and I went from the Conquering Scorpio of Wyntaria to a melted mess of tears and emotion. I was grateful. His lyrics (while written 20 years prior), helped me to realize exactly who my friends were and how we were ALL able to overcome adversity and obstacles because we had each other regardless of what we were lacking monetarily in this world. Those lyrics allowed me to see just how precious and valuable friendship is to my very existence. Just to know that Money Doesn’t Matter as a life lesson, to this day gives me peace.
The “bomb” that I deal with the most now to a fault is from the same song “Let’s Go Crazy”. As an individual who does not hold value to the material world or status and titles, I often find myself referring to the part in the song that indicates what I deem to be the pointlessness of it all. “We’re all excited” He writes. “Don’t know why…Maybe it’s because…We’re all gonna die…”When we do…what’s it all for?” And just what in the fresh hell IS it all for??? I have been looking for the answer to that question for an eternity it seems and so far… I got nothing. But now, whenever I hear him singing that line, I find it to be even more prevalent now to his life more than anything he’s ever written considering that his legacy, his catalog and his millions seemingly will not continue on or be passed down through an heir. Which is probably why he shared so much of it through philanthropy. I suppose that is what it’s all for…right?
All selfishness aside Beloved, this purple pain is real. We all knew this day would come and even talked about how we as Prince family would deal with it on the day that it happened. But we just didn’t think it would be so damn soon! Prince was the one who ALWAYS played it smart. And while I am doing my best to come to terms that he is in a better place, happy truly, free of pain and suffering. I can’t help but to be pissed at the fact that there will never be a Prince/Sade duet, OR another concert that was capable of bending your mind with his music and showmanship alone! Pissed purple, that I’ll NEVER get the chance to be “Black” with him. Or that he won’t ever put me in the back seat and drive off to Tennessee in his Daddy’s absurd ’67 Thunderbird while our relaxers flow in the wind underneath… The Cherry Moon! Pissed that I will never get another phone call from my mother telling me to “Cut the TV on channel so-and-so… Prince is on somebody’s award show!” Cleaner than a Christmas chitterling and kicking ass with a Sexy Dancer and the baddest musicians to ever do it in the background! Pissed that the video’s that he wanted stricken from the internet are suddenly out for all of us to see, and I suppose enjoy them. However, while I am stilled each time I come across a new video of his in my feed, I can’t help but think that Prince knew what he was doing for us when he kept it all off the internet and social media. While from his standpoint it may have been about not getting pimped, but on my end I’m thinking Prince may have been doing us a favor. Point and case, since Prince has passed and the “patrols” aren’t taking down his material, I haven’t gotten to bed before 2 AM, because I cannot stop watching performance after show stopping performance of this gifted and beautiful man. In other words you might just say: “You need another Prince video, like you need a hole in yo head!” (Tears) But now they’re all we have and while I am sincerely grateful for that, the pain of it all hurts so terribly bad.
Almost 30 days now into writing this piece, I received what I would ordinarily call a Prince Bomb (thought about calling them pearls once, but they literally explode you know?) I went on a hunt after work to an oldies “Wrecka Stow” to try and fill in the blanks of my Prince vinyl collection. After my unsuccessful attempt, (which I vow shall continue) I stopped into a random drug store on my way home, to buy (what else?) purple nail polish since that’s what I’ve been wearing since April 21st. As I approached the electric sliding doors, the exit NOT the entrance door slid open. Being one who is usually aware of my surroundings I backed up to make sure that I was reading the displayed signs correctly. The exit door closed and it slid open again, at which point… I walked right on in! Seemed like the right thing to do. Sounds silly I’m sure, but the reassurance of having Prince still affect me this way is immeasurable. I rejoiced and had church right there as I found that last bottle of the purple nail polish that I had been looking for in the arbitrary “five and dime” that I just happened to stop into. My heart was full and I started feeling hopeful about getting past this purple pain that has been lingering like a black and blue bruise beneath my “Cinnamon Girl” skin.
Sounds dramatic, I know. But my coming to terms with him no longer being on this plane of existence with me…with us, has been difficult to accept. I can’t explain it any other way than that. It’s too early in the mourning and I’m sure this is a testament to my faith and how perhaps I need to strengthen it. But for now, it won’t let go. And so I cry and cuss and ask God why? All the while looking for answers through a broken heart over this phenomenal talent that has left us too soon. But I continue to take solace in the fact that the radio is on fire with Prince again and that I taught my niece “Starfish and Coffee” when she turned two. (She’s six now and still sings it with all her heart) And that his music and my love for him will live on forever, and that I got to experience the music and the magic of Prince Rogers Nelson!
The Angelo Moore of Fishbone wrote:
“Jesus comes in many forms and Prince was one of them. Just as Jesus saved us all through his transition through sacrifice, he gave us a wonderful message to live by through out the ages, And When he comes back for the reach around, heads will be Rollin’…………so look busy.”
Brother Moore, some folks might have a problem with what you said and how you just said that, but I can’t thank you enough for putting the right letters together to make a better day! “Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah….”