Prince

My life is pretty much defined by a lyric I wrote a few years back: “dualities struggled with, high wires tiptoed across.”

I’ve always struggled to reconcile opposing instincts, conflicting desires, and diverging impulses.

No matter the topic; sex, drugs, politics, faith, family, career, music I always find myself in the same place.

Prince was different. Prince saw no such conflict. He lived at the crossroads between sin and faith, lust and love, sex and god, funk and soul, rock and roll….and the only struggle he seemed to endure was how far to go down each road at the same time while having the time of his life.

He was fearless. He was FREE. There were no boundaries he allowed to be placed on his music, his sexuality, his faith, his style or anything else.

Where I saw struggle and conflict, he saw freedom and opportunity.

That’s what I take away from Prince and that’s what I feel his legacy is…beyond the INCREDIBLE musicianship, ambition, bold fashion, and sheer brilliance of everything he did.

To me, the real heart and soul of Prince was the fact that for him, there was no struggle to reconcile what seem to me to always be such opposite forces.

For him, that space in between is where the magic is. Don’t fight it. Embrace it.

I’ve spent years trying to understand Prince, following this incredible career and having my jaw drop time after time but I guess it took his untimely death for me to really GET him.

And now…I think I’ve found my personal life work. I need to stew in the conflict and realize that it isn’t a conflict at all. It’s where the magic is. I just need to have a shred of Prince’s confidence to see that and make something of it.

Godspeed Prince.

C’mon son, I’m taking you to make a phone call

Many years ago when I wore a younger man’s clothes, my family moved to Miami.

Without going into tremendous detail, it was what appeared to be a can’t-say-no-to career opportunity for my father during a time when there didn’t seem to be a lot of options.

I vividly remember my father sitting me down and telling me the decision to move was essentially up to me. I was still in school at the time and in a very…complex…relationship with a girl and he was sensitive to taking me away from her and from my schoolmates so soon before graduation.

This was a heavy piece to lay on my young shoulders and I did something I’ve tried not to do since…I lied to my dad.

I told him my school meant nothing (that was the truth) and that the girl and I were just friends and it was fine. (BIG LIE). I told him it made no sense to stay here when he had the opportunity he had waiting for him in Miami.

So we left. We sold the house. We found homes for our pets. We packed up a U-Haul and we were off.

There are so many bits about those final nights in Houston that stick out. Our oldest dog, Sasha, she was blind and deaf…couldn’t control her bladder. We didn’t want to put her to sleep but she couldn’t be placed with anyone and we couldn’t take her. She died two nights before we were scheduled to leave.

The night before we left the girl and her family came over to say goodbye. We walked around the block….held hands…made our promises. One promise I made was to call her the second we got to Miami to let her know we got there safely and to reaffirm that we were going to do the long distance relationship thing.

The next morning came and we were off. When we arrived we moved into a hotel for a few days while mom and dad found a place to live.

They found a great house in Cutler Ridge, a little bit south of Miami itself. It took a few days to get from the hotel into the house, get unpacked etc.

I hadn’t made my phone call yet.

Another memory that sticks out is when we were unpacking; we were listening to WAXY 105.9, at the time an oldies station. Sunshine Superman by Donovan came on and dad was lying down on the truck’s loading ramp. He looked up at my mom and said “Honey, remember this?! We’ve come full circle!”

There was a joy and a love in his voice. It was great to hear as my mom sort of looked at him with this look she gets when my dad gets mushy or overly nostalgic. It was a classic mom and dad moment.

We got the truck unpacked and my mom made my favorite. She was quite in tune to the fact that I had not had a decent meal in weeks and was fading away. I tried to eat. I really did but I couldn’t even take a bite. I went to my new room and put some Beatles on and just sat there.

I hadn’t made my phone call yet.

My dad popped his head in my room and said something I’ll never forget as long as I live.

“C’mon son, I’m taking you to make a phone call.”

He knew. We never spoke of relationships…particularly that one….but he knew.

I got in the car and we drove to the convenience store.

“Open your hands.”

He poured a giant pile of coins into my cupped hands and walked off to buy a pack of smokes.

“Take your time.”

I made my phone call.

Sobbing through the telephone line, there at a pay phone in Miami, we talked and reassured one another and reaffirmed our promises that only young lovers who don’t realize the impossibility of such promises can make.

The operator kept breaking in to say “please deposit 25 cents” and I desperately kept feeding coins into the slot until both my pockets and my soul were bare.

I made my phone call.

Things didn’t work out the way any of us had hoped. Dad’s can’t-say-no-to career opportunity didn’t pan out.

We ended up moving back to Houston.

The girl left me. She said I had ruined her plans by moving back. She had intended to just stop writing until I gave up on writing her.

Dad ended up having a fantastic second run with a different station here and the rest is history.

While things didn’t happen the way we thought they would…or thought we hoped they would…they did turn out ok and I guess that’s the lesson.

Just because things don’t turn out the way you think they need to doesn’t mean they didn’t turn out right.

And always remember…where ever you go…move to a new town, a new job, a new relationship…you’re going to arrive there with everything you packed. Your baggage stays with you until you decide to unpack it and dump what you don’t want anymore.

Know when to let go I guess.

I have the best dad ever by the way. I guess that’s really the whole point to this. That trip we made was a great time despite the tragic emotional and financial turmoil.

There’s no one on earth I’d rather deliver phone books with and no matter what’s going on with me, I know my dad is and always be there to “take me to make a phone call.”

Thanks Dad. I love you.