It’s 3 am and I can’t sleep (again) so I grab my tablet and scroll through Facebook to pass the time. The first thing on my timeline is a post from my friend Stephanie Larson Nyhus: “RIP Prince – still one of my favorite concerts over 30 years ago.” So, of course, I keep on scrolling and see my timeline flooded in purple tributes to “The Minnesota Prince”.
The next morning I wallow for a while in CNN coverage showing 10,000 people in downtown Minneapolis outside First Avenue, the club where Prince’s career began. Everyone is coming together in mourning and I am in Taiwan on a regular Friday morning, drinking my coffee and feeling so very far away…
(“So far away, doesn’t anybody stay in one place anymore…” Carole King.)
One of the downsides of expat life – times like these…
Music has always been a huge part of my life. When I first moved to Taiwan, I couldn’t listen to any of my old music for the first six months because every old song had a memory attached. I needed to be in the moment, focusing on where I was and not flashing back to the life I left behind.
One of my American expat friends (a few years younger) stopped by later that day and asked if I’d seen the news on Prince. She didn’t grow up in his era or in his neighborhood so the news of his death didn’t really affect her. Another good friend (Taiwanese) had seen his death mentioned on Facebook and asked about him. I found him hard to describe, my connection to him hard to explain. You kinda had to be there to really get it.
(Flashbacks to Tuesday nights at T&T in St. Cloud, Minnesota…dancing to “Little Red Corvette” and “1999”…)
And many of my friends were there over the weekend – in Chanhassen at his Paisley Park mansion. They were dressed in purple as they left tributes to the Minnesota Prince of our generation. Some of my aviation friends shared stories of close encounters with Prince while working for Northwest Airlines. One friend sat behind him on a flight to London and commented on how polite he was (and how tiny he was).
(Purple Rain is stuck in my head as I’m mowing my lawn with hand clippers…Taiwanese style.)
It’s moments like these that make me feel more American than ever – specifically more Minnesotan. I scroll through Facebook, wallowing in photos of a purple Target Field, tributes from the Minnesota Twins and the Vikings, purple bridges and purple buildings in tribute to the Prince of Minnesota. Places so familiar yet so far away.
(I’m back in college, drinking beer and dancing “…like it’s 1999”.)
I was at the gym earlier today listening to my usual “70’s Classic Rock” and having a flashback with every song. I can listen to that music now because life is good now that I’m settled in Taiwan. As I was sweating on the arc trainer, I glanced out the window and noticed a middle-aged tree with a thick trunk (kind of sounds like me!) and just a few branches. I realize that even though I’m now living the Taiwan branch of my life, the trunk and the deep roots are pure Minnesooootan. (Uff dah!)
And as a true Minnesotan wear purple and mourn with “my people” at the loss of an indescribable legend, a Minnesota Prince.
“Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today to get through this thing called life…”