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All Of My Purple Life . . .

May 6, 2016

It’s been 8 hours and 14 days . . . since death took Prince away. I read up online about it every night and think about it all day…since untimely death took Prince away.

Yes, I am having a hard time processing the death of Prince, because nothing compares to him. I can only speak for myself when I say that losing Prince is like losing a huge piece of magic that the world will never behold again. He is interwoven into the fabric of my childhood, my teens and my womanhood. I was devastated true enough when Michael died, but losing Prince touches me on a level that I did not even think possible. When I really sat down to contemplate that he was gone, it hit me like a ton of bricks how his music has been the soundtrack to many milestones of my life.

I will be 48 years young in December and now there will be no Prince song to commemorate this upcoming event. I just sit shaking my head at times with my head in my hands. It all started for me at age 12, in 1979, when “I Want to Be Your Lover” was released. I was riding in the car with my mother, and she was like, “What the heck are we listening to and who is that?” I turned the radio up and flashed a braces-filled grin at her saying. “That’s Prince and he is so fine!!!!” In my teens, my best friend and I would sit for hours listening to underground Prince Hits like: Bambi,” “Sister” and “Why You Wanna Treat Me So Bad.” We were Prince gurus that connected with this man and his music like nobody’s business. We got him. We still get him.

The first time “Erotic City” got air play, we heard it at a skating rink in Arkansas where I spent the summer with my best friend. We were one of the first in the world to hear it way before Milwaukee heard it.  It was so deep for us, that we took it to a whole other level and started a clique called Prince Cymone Girls, as Prince grew up in the household of his best friend Andre Cymone and he was Prince’s first bass player. We had the attire to match. Pink blouses in heavy lace brocade with matching leggings and purple-dyed pumps.

When Purple Rain debuted, I can still see us standing in a line that wrapped around for blocks at Capital Court Cinema, with our purple tank tops and purple Wet n Wild lipstick to match. Turning 14, she and I went to the Controversy Tour Concert at the Mecca Arena, in 1981. It was an event that I will never forget. We purchased huge purple posters that rocked 1999! Later that night at an after party, we won the Vanity 6  look-alike contest and we blew up overnight and became two of the most popular teenagers in Milwaukee. I can remember my classmates from that point on—never calling me Sonya again, but Vanity instead—and life was never the same for us after that.

Approaching adulthood, I became one of the Beautiful Ones that broke a heart or two in my time. I can remember falling in love off of “When 2 R In Love” from the Lovesexy album and “If I Was Your Girlfriend” from the album Sign of the Times. I would then be married in 1995 and walked down the aisle to his song, “The Most Beautiful Girl In the World”. WOW . . . Prince sang at my wedding and he never knew it. Or did he? I have to smile to myself and feel that somehow, just by some remote connected vibe, that maybe he did indeed know it. I like to think that, anyway.

I am sure he knows now, in the afterworld, how much I treasured his music, his persona. Prince was blessed with the power to transcend color lines and break down stereotypes with his music. This blog is my way of saying goodbye sweet Prince and I thank you for being the soundtrack . . . all of my purple life.

Sonya Marie Bowman is a writer of positive prose for the Milwaukee Community Journal and a published co-author of the book No Artificial Ingredients – Reflections Unplugged. She is a member of Sister Speak, a trilogy of writers who formed in 2010 with a vision of self-expression and a goal of healing. The trio states they are inspired by grace, allowing them to take a genuine position on the struggles and successes of everyday living.


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