I've always loved purple. When I was a kid, I got to pick the carpet for my room; I chose purple shag. My bedspread was mauve as were my curtains. I would choose purple stuffed animals, purple doll clothes and put that Laurentien pencil crayon #5 to good use whenever an opportunity presented itself. I suppose it was inevitable that I would fall for Prince.
I first met his work in Dirty Mind and Controversy. There is little purple prose on those albums. They are raw and they are real. Struggling with finding my place in the world, trying to figure out who I was as a young adult, and exploring my sexuality, the unfiltered lyrics and driving vibe of those albums hit the sweet spot. I listened to them over and over, not knowing yet, that it was the launch of my adult version of loving purple.
When I saw Purple Rain I was sandwiched between my boyfriend and his brother at a drive-in theatre. They ceased to exist. I knew the acting was terrible and the movie incredibly simplistic, but Prince was mesmerizing. My body vibrated with the music and I totally crushed on this man who was like no man I'd ever known, yet personified love and sex. That November, I went to his Purple Rain concert. He proved that his talent was no hype. I was spellbound from start to finish. Nothing has equalled it for me.
His "take me as I am" attitude, showed me time and again that it's okay to be different. More than okay—it's important to accept and rejoice in differences as well as commonalities. He was about connecting on a primal level, about being human and about celebrating that mixed bag of experiences and emotions that defines our species.
I have made no secret of my love of all things Prince, as the friends who sent emails and texts on Thursday, checking in on me, can attest. But, I'm not a gaga-for-celebrities kind of person as a rule. I don't hunt down news of them or obsess about their lives. I don't feel they owe me anything or that they are my friends. Yet, I am devastated by Prince's death. I feel truly gutted.
He has been with me since I was seventeen. Controversy was the background to my first long-term relationship. My husband went to the Purple Rain concert with me, although we went with a group of friends as friends and had no idea that we had a lifetime together ahead of us. But, he loved that show and the music as much as I did and I fell a little bit in love with him that night. Prince gave us the music to dance to, allowing us to release that after-performance adrenaline. Our theatre troupe, our dearest of friends, would squeal at the first notes of Let's Go Crazy and hit the stage. And, when we closed the bedroom door at night, Prince serenaded.
His music has been the soundtrack of my life. I will miss him, this man I never knew. Goodbye my purple friend.