Dig if you will this picture
Trudging up a fog-enshrouded trail, coat clutched tight against the wind. Meeting others who come stumbling down, faces numb against the cold and the day's events. Snippets of "1999" drifting in and out of the mist. Finally reaching the summit and staring mutely at a familiar landmark, bathed entirely in a ghostly purple.
This is what it sounds like when Minnesotans cry.
When I finally reach the end of my big party that's not meant to last, I'll consider it a success if I cause a single face to light up with a warm smile of remembrance. It's the rare person, indeed, whose passing is marked by having the entire world illuminated.
Duluth had a purple Enger Tower. Minneapolis had a purple I-35W bridge. Paris had a purple Eiffel Tower ... a purple Eiffel Tower, people!
Such was the impact of Prince.
I was saddened by all the personal stories saturating social media last week, but it wasn't only for the loss of a true musical genius. Selfishly, it was also because I didn't have any Prince stories that I could share. I had no connection to the man whatsoever, other than we were both from Minnesota and we both wore fishnet stockings in the '80s.
The only link I could come up with happened last winter as our family searched for a geocache hidden near Paisley Park. I stared expectantly at the famous landmark that Purple Rain built, but no dove ever did fly out carrying my invitation to a pajama/pancake dance party.
I became more and more jealous as the anecdotes piled up:
"He opened the door, smiled that million dollar smile, and said 'You're late.'"
"He walked into our SuperAmerica in his pajamas, buying candy."
"He came to my nephew's graduation party with a crockpot of Purple Stew."
OK, that last one was made up, and almost posted, by me. But I was desperate! I felt the need to keep up. How was it possible that everyone in the state of Minnesota had some sort of contact with Prince but me?
And then it hit me. Like a boxful of raspberry berets.
I never met Prince, or the Artist, or the Kid, but over the course of my entire 50-plus years of existence, I have been intricately bound to the music.
What transformed a crushingly awkward geek-boy into a cool, confident man-about-town, especially in his own mind? "Little Red Corvette."
What blew the doors off any depressing, dull, monotonous day? "Let's Go Crazy."
What pulled me through every single gut-punch delivered to my young, earnest, heartbroken soul? "Purple Rain."
And so many more, far too many to count. That's why this particular loss is so profound and deep for the entire world, but especially for us Minnesotans.
Prince's success could have taken him anywhere in the world, but he chose to stay right here, among the people he grew up with, who shaped him, who supported and loved him. Sure, the world lights up to honor Prince in death, but whenever I experienced his music, I lit up every single day of his life. We all did.
There's no stronger connection than that.
Brian Matuszak is the founder of Rubber Chicken Theater and invites you to follow him and his theater company on Twitter at twitter.com/rchickentheater, like them on Facebook at Rubber Chicken Theater, and visit their website at www.RubberChickenTheater.com. His favorite Prince song is “Delirious” because even doofy guys with no rhythm can dance to it. Well, rhythmically move to it, anyway.