Last Sunday evening, around the time I should have been feeding my kids dinner, a sudden urge to poses a Prince T-shirt came over me. Purple Rain had played at the Target Center in Minneapolis, my hometown, to a crowd of 5,000 people mourning Prince. I knew they were selling Prince T-shirts in the parking lot and inside the stadium.
All weekend I’d been thinking about a Prince T-shirt. I had to have a Prince T-shirt and now.
I sent a few texts asking some friends and acquaintances were they thought I could buy a Prince T-shirt in Los Angeles. I wasn’t opposed to driving. The texts started coming in. “Ahhs! The Ultimate Gift Store.” That’s a good one. I called Ahhs!. No Prince T-shirts. “Venice Boardwalk!” Fantastic. Why didn’t I think of that?
It was close to 6:40 pm at this point. I explained to my husband my urgency for a Prince T-shirt and that I needed to get to Venice Beach as soon as possible. Did he think I could make it before the street venders closed up shop? “Why not wait until tomorrow?” he asked. “I need to wear it tomorrow,” I said. He didn’t question me further.
I knew I would never make it to Venice Beach if I drove. Weekend parking is impossible. My husband, good guy, pumped up my bike tires while I changed into a pair of pants that wouldn’t get caught in the bike chain. I assessed the “It’s a Sunday night and it’s dinner time situation.”
I wasn’t hungry. My daughter was eating a bowl of cereal. My son is only ever hungry for screen time. We would skip dinner. The kids could watch a movie.
Thursday night I was glued to Facebook watching shaky phone videos of the crowd outside of First Avenue. I looked online and saw a few Prince T-shirts on Etsy but they were lacking that street corner energy I craved.
I got on my bike and started to pedal toward my Prince T-shirt.
It was an easy downhill ride to the ocean.
With the wind blowing in my face and my hair, I felt free. I felt youth. I pedaled faster. I was almost to the ocean. I was crying. For the first time since I had heard the news of Prince’s death, I was crying. Tears poured from my eyes as I hit the ocean and turned south onto the bike path toward Venice.
I thought about when I first moved to LA from Minneapolis. Love Symbol had just come out. I would rollerblade in my bikini from Venice to West Channel Road. 7 was my favorite song. I would listen to it over and over again. When my kids were babies, 7 was the lullaby I sang to them when they couldn’t sleep. I sang it to my daughter tonight.
The Friday night after his death, I streamed the Current, Minnesota’s Public Radio. 26 hours of Prince, A to W.
I had the Current streaming both on my phone and my computer. I put my headphones on and closed myself into the back bedroom so I could sing along to DMSR and my kids couldn’t hear me as I belted out “work your body like a whore.”
My tears fell harder now. The sun was getting lower. I was getting a Prince T-shirt. When I arrived in Venice I had to walk my bike. Black Ecco brand Mary Jane’s walking alongside my bike. These are the feet of a young woman. A wife. A mother of two.
I can see my reflection in the glass of a medical marijuana dispensary. I’m wearing a blue and green polka dotted back pack and carrying 20 pounds more of me than I did when I rollerbladed in my orange string bikini singing “Darling Nikki.” I have an age crease under my left eye and my dirty blond hair is streaked with willful gray hair.
At 46 I’ve never thought of myself as old. The last time I saw Prince in concert he was 46 and I was pregnant with my daughter. Prince looked so youthful he was glowing purple as he sang “Little Red Corvette” acapella, sitting on a stool with his guitar.
I walk past shop after shop. Marilyn Monroe, Michael Jackson, Bob Marley, Jimmy Hendrix, David Bowie. The dead artists T-shirts hang amongst emoji’s and dream catchers. I have almost reached the Venice Circle. There’s nothing on the Venice Boardwalk (with the exception of pot) that you can’t buy on Amazon or at Target anymore. There are no artists here, just over-priced truffle oil, french fries and real estate.
The ride home is uphill. I pedal hard, my youth lost in the absence of a Prince T-shirt. I pedal harder.
My kids will be tired and hungry when I get home.
Devorie Franzwa lives in Santa Monica, CA with her husband and two children. She grew up in Minnesota dancing to Prince. She tells her sun-kissed beach children that in Minnesota, sometimes it snows in April.