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    A Letter to Prince on His 58th Birthday


    You would have been fifty-eight today. I celebrate your birthday every year, but this is the first time in my life you haven't been on Earth for it. I wasn't quite sure what to do this morning. Normally on your birthday, I get up, find some killer picture of you (how are there so many killer pictures of you, man?), post it all over creation, and then listen to your music all day. When I woke up today, that technologically menacing feature of Facebook that tells you what you did on this particular day last year (and any year before) cropped up. Every year that I've been on there, I've posted a picture of you on June 7th. Every year.

    Today, I sat there and looked at those pictures. Those purple suits. I remember when Musicology came out and you were in those pin-striped suits with the jackets that wrapped around your whole torso. My mind was blown. Guys have been wearing suits for a hundred years, and you found a way to make them interesting. Of course you did. Anyway, there you were in the purple suits, looking very much alive. Looking aloof and free and in control. I said to Jerry, "Prince would have been fifty-eight today." He nodded. Not because he knew that already, but because he wasn't surprised that I knew it.

    I still haven't listened to your work since you passed. I just can't yet. But, it's your birthday, and I'm not sure who I am if I'm not a person who celebrates your life on June 7th. So, I put my NPG shirt on, now so old and worn that I can't even wash it anymore. I wore it for days after you died, but not since. But, I put it on today and felt less than dressed for the occasion. I decided to wear that insane strand of purple freshwater pearls and some light purple eye-shadow with the faintest bit of glitter in it - both leftover from when I was more feminine. I looked better. I added my amethyst pendant and felt that it was just over the top enough to be acceptable for your day. After all, where was I going? The post office? I'm still wearing the shirt as I write this.

    You know, my whole life my mother told me to write to you. She was always railing at me to send you some song, or write to you about my music. She knew I thought you were the absolute top, as far as creative visionaries go. She championed my contacting you and sharing who I was with you. I never did. I regret it every day - not because you'd have sent me a plane ticket to Minnesota where we'd have sat around and played guitar together all day in purple silk pajamas. Hardly. In fact, just sitting here thinking about what in the world I might have hypothetically sent you in any of those life chapters makes me want to burrow into the ground and change my name. No, I regret it because I never told you that you were the coolest fucking person I ever saw. Ever heard. Ever got to freak out about. Who cares what you might have thought of my work. It matters to me that I never told you what I thought of your work. You were my favorite. You are my favorite. I guess that doesn't have to become past tense like everything else has.

    I think a big part of me never telling you any of that was that I thought everyone probably did. Surely jets full of fan mail flew to Paisley Park every day, all for you, all telling you that you were their favorite. That they knew every word of every song, even the ones on Crystal Ball. Every person you met, every concert you played, every hand you shook - you were their favorite. And you probably were. What's one more awkward person with a guitar and Purple Rain poster on their wall to Prince? I figured I was nothing. I regret it every day.

    That regret has caused me to do differently in recent weeks. You know HR from Bad Brains? I told him. Chris Stein from Blondie? I told him. Chrissie Hynde? I told her. I don't even care if it's lame, or just another note on the pile. It's for me, not them. I know that now. It's for my heart.

    Speaking of hearts, I'm so sorry about yours. I didn't know. I didn't know you struggled. I didn't know you had pain, physical or otherwise. I didn't know you had an addiction. It never occurred to me that you could ever be unwell. You see, the part of me that loved you first was very young. I've grown, she hasn't. She's catching up.

    Here's what I never told you about myself, and then I'm off to the name-changing office. I write songs. I play guitar and sing them. I own an acoustic guitar, but it's a sham; I'm an electric player all the way. I've played in a few bands and right now I play in a punk and hardcore band called Friendship Commanders. You might hate it, but then you might also see potential in some of the songs. I'm for the song, no matter what the genre or presentation. I know you were, too. Right now I play a Gibson Nighthawk from 1995 - DON'T ROLL YOUR EYES! They're cooler than you think! Plus, she's hearty and has a Fender-scale neck, which I love. Her name is King, after Stephen King and Dee Dee Ramone's alter ego, Dee Dee King. (Did you like the Ramones? Which Ramone was your favorite? I know it wasn't Johnny.) I actually have my eye on another Nighthawk, same year, same model - but she's red with cream binding on the body. I can't really afford her, but if I end up with her, I want to name her Christine, like the car. She was red and cream, too. (Did you like Stephen King?) I wear a suit, too. Mine's not purple, but I rebuilt the jacket myself (I can relate to the petite suiting problem), so it's pretty custom. Plus, it says "PMA" on the lapel, for Positive Mental Attitude. It's not because I have it. It's because I want it. I want it badly. I'm dark as hell, but I'm working on it. It's a full-time project over here. The most recent song I've written is called "Outlive You," and it's about my fear that I'll outlive a friend of mine who struggles with addiction. The same addiction they say you struggled with. And died with. (I didn't think I'd outlive you.)

    This is a shitty birthday send-off, huh? I'll be alright. Are you alright?

    The world is turning, everyone talks about you. They all call you a genius. I already knew that. I hope the world wore purple today, I know I did. I might again tomorrow. Fuck it. I'm probably wearing this shirt again.

    You were the GREATEST, man. Happy fifty-eight.

    With all the love and respect my heart can hold, 

    Buick Audra Prentice

    (P.S. Should I buy the guitar? Send a sign. Thanks.)