What Prince Means to a Minnesotan

My first memory of Prince wasn’t his actual music. It was driving in downtown Minneapolis with my mom when she pointed out the famous First Avenue nightclub from “Purple Rain.” It’s black outsides lined with 531 silver stars. “That’s Prince’s place,” she said. I had no idea who she was talking about, but I knew that he must have been important.

Fast forward to my adult life: I’m driving in the heart of Des Moines, Iowa to pick up some new business cards for work. I’m thinking that I might have time to stop by my apartment for lunch before I need to be back at the office. My car’s radio is set to its usual alternative rock station, when the song playing ends and the personality comes on and says that TMZ is reporting that Prince has been found dead. I turn up the radio, thinking I didn’t hear him right the first time (especially since TMZ was involved), but sure enough I heard right. And, I kid you not, like some dramatic scene out of a Nicole Kidman movie I pull over on the road just in time to hear myself scream “NO.”

And it was raining.

I flashback to being a little girl dancing in my parent’s living room to “Purple Rain” with my mom. When I got older my mom and aunts would tell me all about the mysterious Prince and how he still lived in Minneapolis, which was only two hours away from where we lived. At one point my aunt even lived in the same suburb as him. I also remember her recalling the time she went to a Twins game at the old Metrodome and sat a few rows behind him.

Prince was famous for being a genius and an enigma. But in Minnesota you could easily spot him, sometimes sitting at a back table in the old First Avenue club.

You see, the world will mourn Prince like it mourns every time a great artist leaves us. But Minnesota will mourn a little differently. The world lost an icon, but we lost a friend.

As I wiped the tears from my eyes and looked out the car window at the dreary Iowa rainy day I couldn’t help but think about where my mom was and if she had heard the news. I can’t remember who texted who first but she happened to be in Minneapolis for a conference and she said no one was getting any work done once the news was delivered to them.

I realize that this post may seem sappy. We’ve lost a lot of great artists over the years. Life will go on. But losing Prince feels personal, not just because I’m a fan, but because we came from the same place. We were raised in the same city. We shared the same ideals. In a world that can really suck sometimes, it was nice knowing Prince and I always had something in common.

And most importantly, he always reminded me of home. He reminded me of my mom. He reminded me of where I came from, and how proud I am of that place.

Minnesota lost its guardian angel yesterday. And baby, was he a star.

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