I was dreamin’ when I wrote this
Forgive me if it goes astray — P.
Hunter Boyle is not a particularly good friend of mine. In fact, I don’t know much about him. I don’t know his favorite films or foods. I wouldn’t know where to find him on a Monday morning, like I would most of my friends. I don’t even know how old he is or where he grew up. That said, Hunter Boyle is one of the most important people in my life, and I love him. I genuinely love him and if we ever lost him I would be devastated.
I met Hunter a long time before he met me. I don’t remember exactly when but I know it was decades ago and he was on the stage at Trustus Theatre. I’m not a fan girl or a sycophant, but I never imagined that I’d ever meet Hunter back then, like I never imagined that I’d meet the amazing Paul Kaufmann. When I saw the Kathy and Mo Show and immediately memorized lines that still make me laugh at this very moment, I never imagined that I would meet and come to know Elena Martinez-Vidal and Dewey Scott-Wiley.
But life changed for me. Like for a lot of us, the older I got the harder it became to blow off and block out how fucked up the world is. I had to make adjustments. Apply filters and make priorities. So I made a decision that if I were going to be able to get through this thing called life, rather than calling up that shrink in Beverly Hills, Dr. Everything’ll Be Alright, I would have to prioritize what to me presented as the most essential parts of existence. For me, there are three things: love, nature, and art. Pure and unconditional love, expressed through my relationship with my spouse and family; the dependability, consistency, and resoluteness of nature; and art, some of which is only meaningful in its expression of fancy or beauty, but is nonetheless important, but most of which is the outpouring of such personal authentic resolution and reconciliation of life’s issues and events – loss, pain, frustration, emptiness, confusion, the struggle to continue, overwhelming joy and love – that there are times when it almost paralyzes the spirit with its purity of sentiment.
You know these times.
A dancer ends her performance and you realize you haven’t exhaled for far too long.
A play ends and only then are you aware that tears are dripping down your face.
You look at a photograph and feel like you’ve seen a ghost, and though nothing is evidently there, you cannot shake the feeling and return time and again to peer at and into the same photo.
Or with a painting, you stare at it and examine it from all distances and angles, and you spend moments, or sometimes a lifetime, trying to hear the story it is telling.
A band is playing and the music possesses you and it seems as if you cannot control how the bass and rhythm move through your body, so you dance. You move and shake, and you dance, disregarding any sense of humility.
Or, and this really gets me, a vocalist holds a note at the end of a song and you feel as if your heart is going to burst right out of your chest as she does it – I mean, you feel the actual sensation of your chest having expanded to such a degree that the muscles hurt with a sweet and exhilarating pain.
Along with love and nature, these feelings, these experiences and my privilege of witnessing these testimonies are my crutches. They prop me up and keep me going. And, as was just resolved at a conversation at the Whig, crutches don’t have to symbolize weakness; they can also signify humanity.
Prince died yesterday and he has broken our hearts in having done so.
Social media is filled with expressions of grief and exaltation; stories of songs and concerts and rites of passage. He was so many things to so many of us. For me, Prince was my instant drug—with the first notes of so many songs setting off a physical reaction that reduced (expanded?) me to a convulsing, quivering spazmoid of a middle-aged lady vomiting out the inner workings of my soul. My soul! I stopped caring what people thought about this a long time ago because, well, fuck them if they didn’t get that it was Prince and he was talking to me. When the song would end I’d go back to my slightly more decorous life and my day, my world, would always be better for having heard it, no matter how much my paroxysms embarrassed the people around me. Prince was and always will be my crutch.
His song has ended, but his songs will never end.
Very few of us ever met Prince. We didn’t know his favorite foods or films or what he might be doing on a Monday morning. But he was one of the most important people in our lives, and we loved him. Now that he is gone, we are devastated.
But we’re still here.
So, I’m writing this to the artists who are still here with us, the artists like Prince who aren’t Prince, but are part of his tribe, his family of artists, the mere mortals who may never step onto the same stages from which Prince ruled our worlds but still suffer and hunger and try to make sense for the rest of us, just like Prince did – the Hunter Boyles and Paul Kaufmanns and Deweys and Elenas, and the Mariclare Mirandas and Stephen Chesleys and the Daniel Machados, and the Michaela Pilar Browns, the Bonnies and Chads and Eds. You may never know who we are, but you are our crutches, too. You prop us up and keep us going alone in a world so cold. You bring a value to our lives not unlike that of the Purple One. And for that we should all celebrate.
Thank you to Prince, and thank you to all the artists out there, unknown and known. Life is just a party – so, let’s get nuts.