Well Prince died, and that sucks. It sucks that he'll never make any more music (though I'm sure he's got troves and troves yet unreleased). It sucks that I'll never get to see him live--my #1 concert bucket list item. And of course it sucks that his strange, hot, fancy light has been extinguished from the earth, though it will re-ignite every time a person drops a needle on a record or presses "play." Like Bowie, what the loss of this mythical human brings up for me is not the physical absence, because it's not like I knew him personally or ever would, just initial shock and sadness, and gratitude for the body of work. Once again what it drives home for me is how music is such a powerful conduit and uniter and memory trip.
I was listening to "Diamonds and Pearls" the other day, it made me think of Niki. That was one of our songs. We had a lot of "our" songs, and more than one Prince one, even, as our friendship was so connected by music in general. But "Diamonds and Pearls" was particularly huge for us. So listening to it, I wasn't driving my own car over the BU Bridge anymore, but was suddenly a passenger in her mother's brown wagon, Nik at the wheel, doing endless loops on a freezing December night. I can even immediately recall the scent of the car's air freshener. We would drive and talk and listen to tapes over and over. It was some of the best time I've ever spent. It was a complicated experience to be overcome with that memory. Such a happy one, and then, well.
With Nik, I realize that when Prince died, she lived for me again, briefly, and I had to go through remembering that she died again. Additionally, Nik is the first one I should have thought of, and she wasn't, and I don't know what that means. It took me days to make that visceral connection. Maybe it means that now that over three years have passed I'm just getting over that initial instinct, I've accepted that she's gone and it's less painful to know I only have memories. But if that's the case, I don't even know how to feel about that. The thing about having an amazing bond with someone is that when one party goes away, the other speaks a dead language. Nobody else can understand you exactly the same way. Prince and his music had specific meaning for us. And Phife Dawg's. And I got news about a former Digable Planet member that was just SO GOOD (thankfully) but the conversation stopped with me. I can talk about some of these things with other people, but the translation isn't just right. So that's where the loss of Prince is hitting me, I guess you could say. With a much more personal loss.
On the other hand, it also helped me to think of another childhood bff and how much we loved Prince and how between Purple Rain (the movie and the album) and the frank conversations it prompted with her and her mom, I gleaned a much more comprehensive and accurate sexual education than most kids I know so for that I'll be forever grateful. "Darling Nikki" (NIKI!) might be straight-up filthy, but it also offers up some real teaching moment opportunities. So suck it Tipper Gore, I guess.
Anyway, goodbye dear Prince Rogers Nelson the person, and never goodbye to your legacy. And because the look is everything in Paisley land, here's my homage to Prince's passport photo. (The purple is unintentional, I just have way more purple clothing than I would have guessed.)