I have been surprised by how emotional I have felt since learning of Prince’s death yesterday. He was an amazing musician, but he and his music represent something greater than albums that I listened to so often in college that I practically stretched out the cassette tapes. The Purple Rain album was the soundtrack of leaving a cow town in the middle of nowhere Massachusetts where I never felt like I fit in to go to a college where I truly discovered the world and my tribe. It was the soundtrack of finally having the space to be who I was and having the chance to reinvent myself. Prince was the soundtrack of being taken under the wing by upper class women and being given refuge, an education and maybe a little bit of their cool.
Purple Rain was late night talks with friends about our hopes and dreams. It was M & Cs (milk and cookies for those of you who did NOT attend Mount Holyoke College) and spirited class discussions. Prince was the music I would dance to when we wouldn’t leave the dorm until 10 pm to go out. It was wearing a tux and lace gloves at the Womyn’s Cotillions, dancing with my friend Lisa at Ham Hall dorm parties and my memorable second semester freshman year roommate Janet. It was about living in the moment and not worrying about what other people thought of you. It was freedom.
Prince encouraged us to fall passionately in love with life and the world. He encouraged us live passionately because we were young and alive and if looked at it the right way, the world could be a beautiful place.