In case you don’t know this about me already, let me tell you: I’m kind of a big fan of Prince. If you’d like to read an emo account about how I came to his music, you can read about that HERE. If you’d like to read an equally emo account about how I made my way through the sadness I felt when he died, you can read about that HERE. Or, you can skip those and just read on:
It was because of my love for Prince that I took an invitation to a graduation which would be taking place in Minneapolis as an excuse to finally visit Paisley Park. Prince had died the year before but, in hindsight, it was probably still too soon to visit.
We had the good fortune of Minneapolis being sunny and beautiful while we were there, and springtime in any snow-heavy place is always a miraculous gift. The snow is gone; the flowers are poppin’; and the birds are singing their lil’ hearts out. None of these things helped me in the ‘Feeling All of the Feels’ department, though.
I’d purchased tickets for a basic tour of Paisley Park. There’s an upgraded tour for more money, with more access and maybe a cocktail or something? But I’m glad I went basic because, in my experience, it’s easier to hide weird silent-crying in a crowd.
We were a few minutes late because of some suuuuuper slow service at an otherwise-lovely riverside restaurant with patio dining, the name of which I’ve forgotten because I was so mad to be running late for Prince. Not that, you know, he was waiting for me or anything. But still. During our drive I was very, very quiet while Paulie tried to get us there as quickly and safely as possible. I practiced my deep breathing while he stayed silent, knowing that trying to cheer me up would not work out well for him in this moment. *He gets me*
When we arrived, the gatekeeper said “aw, sorry, you’re late, you’ll have to wait for the next tour.” My eyes grew three sizes and I almost started screaming – we couldn’t make the later tour because of a graduation party (the graduate was Paul’s daughter so it would’ve been a jerky thing to do. Anyone else though? Psh, forget it). Luckily, he then started laughing and said “nah I’m just kiddin’, go on in.” Ummm…not cool, pal!
Once inside, we rushed in to join the rest of our group in the sun-filled atrium. The others had gotten the schpeel already and were wandering around a bit, looking in a few open rooms. The guide came over to us and offered a quickie intro, which ended with her pointing up to the cathedral ceiling where a small box lay bathing in sunlight near Prince’s pet doves, who were cooing away. She said that some of his ashes were in that box. She also said that it was not his doves that were cooing, but just one, Divinity, as Majesty had died earlier in the year.
Well – that did it for me. The sucking in of air/trying to hold in the big cry began in earnest. I poked my head into the various rooms, emitting little “mmhmm, mmhmm” nods of approval but not taking much in. There was talking. There was walking. We heard a sample of the album Prince had been working on at the time of his death. We looked at outfits and gold records.
And then, we went into the Purple Rain room. His purple motorcycle was there, and the white guitar, and his final scene outfit. Our guide explained that this room had once been Prince’s basketball court, (warning if you click that link – it is hilarious but UNCENSORED). I looked up to see the hoops tucked in toward the ceiling, and then I lost my damn cry-control power. The tiny breaths I’d been sucking in and holding could no longer contain my tears, and they started to just leak out of their own accord. I walked around, still barely breathing, with tears running down my face, pretending no one was noticing. Paul, to his credit, kept a
safe respectful distance behind me so I could do my thing. My ‘thing’ being, of course, crying like a weirdo.
In the next room, our guide asked if any of us had seen Under the Cherry Moon; I was the only one who raised their hand. “Who are these people?!” I wondered. “And why are they even here?” Yes, okay, I’ll admit: I wanted them all to leave so I could be alone with my feelings.
At the end of the tour, we were invited to watch Prince’s iconic Super Bowl performance, during which he and his band and dancers made the fact that they were performing in a torrential rain storm seem like no big thing. In heels. With electric guitars. Because Prince. I’ve seen it before – I mean, we all have, right? Tell me you’ve seen this performance!! – but watching it again in Paisley Park was just another wallop to this lady’s emo load. It’s okay; I took my time.
No photos were allowed to be taken inside Paisley Park, which is probably for the best. Nobody needs to see photo after photo of my ugly crying ass posing in front of cars and stages and guitars. After I wiped off my entire face, we did get one in the gift shop, though, and one outside, both of me still not quite breathing.
Later that night, after I’d recovered, we went to First Avenue – Prince’s club, and where much of Purple Rain was filmed – in downtown Minneapolis. I can’t tell you who was playing, but I can tell you that the lighting leaned toward purple a lot, I got a t-shirt, and it was all good enough for me. The feelings I experienced were much like the day Prince died, and the day after. At first I couldn’t breathe, and then, I was ready to just dance and celebrate his life.
I don’t know if I’ll ever return to Minneapolis. I’m sure there are plenty of other things to do and see there (for example, we did try to visit House of Balls, but they were closed). But if I never do make it back, I feel okay about the one visit I did get. Paisley Park is, as they say, in my heart.