I just landed in New York City.
My flight was relatively uneventful — Porter Airlines does an excellent job in making air travel feel fairly civilized — but kicked off with an intriguing conversation in the lounge before I boarded the plane.
In the lounge, I met a young lady who was staring at a New York City guidebook. Intrigued, I asked her why she was heading to NYC, and what big adventures she had planned. Her answer was simple, but her enthusiasm was refreshing: she had always told herself that she would visit the Big Apple one day, and also that she would travel alone one day, and this week ahead, she’d be crossing both those items off her list.
When she asked me why I was flying to the City, I told her that I was going to pay tribute to Prince.
Most people who know me know that Prince is my favorite musician, favorite celebrity — he’s probably my favorite person who isn’t directly one of my friends or family. I’ve been listening to his music since I was four or five years old; children in school made fun of me for my love of purple until they grew up and discovered the majesty that was Purple Rain. I’ve seen the man perform live in concert a dozen times, and even that doesn’t feel like enough. When I heard that Carnegie Hall was going to be hosting a tribute to Prince on March 7, I bought tickets to the show before booking my flight or even asking to take days off of work.
My love of Prince isn’t just about the music — his music is transcendent and his talent is unmatched, but there’s so much more — but about his overall presence. Whatever you may think of his music or his antics, Prince takes his craft seriously, and he takes great care in crafting his iconic persona. He isn’t just a rock star with talent, he’s someone who recognizes his immense talent, and then puts incredible work into sharing that talent in a way that brings joy, awe, inspiration, and sometimes discomfort, to others.
The young lady at the Porter Lounge didn’t have all this context into my Prince fandom, so she looked at me with a quizzical look: “Prince? Is he that guy that changed his name to a symbol?”
I get that question a lot. It’s surprising to me how many people haven’t experienced the music or impact of Prince these days.
I explained to her that Prince was more than just an artist that changed his name into a symbol, but someone who was a symbol for playfulness, determination, talent, whimsy, hard work, artistry, and brilliance. He was a talent to be celebrated, to be rejoiced, to be paid tribute.
She didn’t quite get it, but she appreciated my vigor and enthusiasm. More likely, she appreciated my tips on where to go and what to eat in the city; she boarded the plane with a giddiness that is reserved for someone who is bursting with anticipation for adventures to come.
So did I.
For the past few years, I’ve loved and celebrated March 7 more than any day of the year. I’m still celebrating today, but in a different way: tonight, Lake Minnetonka comes to Carnegie Hall, and I’ll be dancing and singing and paying tribute to someone whose music and life is making today, and every day, one to celebrate.