The day Prince dies I find out this way: I’m supposed to do a radio interview in the morning and instead the interviewer texts, “Can’t do interview until I know what’s happened to Prince.” With a clutching stomach I write back, “What happened to Prince?” and she tells me and like everyone else I enter the social media vortex of first denial, then grief.
Later that day I sit in a café and try to write. I’ve written in this café for years but now it’s emptier than I’ve ever seen it. I check my Facebook feed hourly, it’s a glut of shock and sadness. No one can believe it; no one can bear to believe it. I wonder if the café’s empty because everyone has stayed home to mourn. The staff is somber too. They play “Raspberry Beret” and I hold it together. They play “Kiss” and I cry into my coffee even as I wonder why I am mourning someone I did not actually know.
Then I think, of course I did know him. Like everyone else, I met him in the space between him creating the music and us hearing that music. In that place some gorgeous alchemy happened, and in the specific way of the beloved artist he was known to us; he was loved by us.