April 24, 2016


It is 1984? 85? I am in fifth grade. I think.

Because I went to school in the Canal, the “poor” part of Marin County (one of the wealthiest counties in the US of A) I attended an after school daycare program led by the Canal Community Alliance. This program for kids like me, Trista, Etoyia and Diane allowed us to do all the cool things that the kids with money in the rest of the county did on a fairly regular basis.

The CCA took us to Santa Cruz for camping, kayaking in the bay, horseback riding out at Tennessee Valley Road and even once on a river rafting trip on the American River. Basically every single cool thing I did as a kid, I did because of the CCA. And the “they” I am referring to were three women who ran our small part of the larger center. Michelle, Cindy and Martha.

Looking back, I realise that much of my understanding of how to treat women must have come from these three amazing people. They were young(ish) I have no idea how old they might have been. They were dedicated and taught us so much. They were filled with joy and passion and really seemed to love us. I would love to get in touch with them, so if anyone on FB can wave some magic wand, that would be priceless.

This in particular memory is set in Michelle’s car, a blue Honda hatchback if my memory serves me well, and if not, let’s pretend this is fiction. We were winding through the hills in Berkeley headed to The Lawrence Hall of Science for some weekly outing.

The music was loud and the windows were down. I seem to remember sitting shotgun, and I have no idea who else was in the car, but I remember Michelle singing at the top of her lungs; her face projecting a magnificent smile. And me…tiny, shy, skinny me, singing along with her.

“I’m not a woman.
I’m not a man.
I’m something that you’ll never understand….
I’m not a human.
I am a dove.
I’m your conscious.
I am love.
I would die for you.
Baby if you want me to.”

I could not have known what all the words meant, but I remember the music put me on the edge of something that felt forbidden. There was a sensuality in it that as a child I found dangerous and enticing. As a parent, the idea of a sexual awakening in your child is terrifying, but as a ten year old it was electrifying.

1984 was an intense year in many ways. The details are fuzzy of whether my parents were on or off in their on-and-off again relationship, but I know that grade five was a big year for me. I grew up a lot that year. And listening to Prince in the car with Michelle had a lot to do with it. I’m not sure when I first saw Purple Rain, but I know I had also recently somehow watched Flashdance. Like A Virgin was released that same year. It was an stimulating introduction to adolescences that had come early for me.

For as long as I can remember it is that sensual electricity that made Prince, Prince.

Years later at 1576 parties, we would spend the nights bouncing our bodies around the living room, creating tamer versions of mosh pits- Pearl Jam and NIN fueled testosterone displays, but late in the night when we had tired from that nonsense, I would often play Little Red Corvette and Purple Rain as a way to, well, be another kind of man. And that is what Prince has always allowed me to be.

I may not be familiar with his entire catalogue, but the songs of his I do know where instrumental in making me who I am. And it is the ten year old me, who mourns his death with the heaviest heart. At the tender age of ten, when I needed it most, Prince taught me what it means to be human, and I have been confused and excited about it everyday since.

Spent some quality time with just Kaia and I today and it is crazy what a cool little person she has become. There is so much less parenting involved when we are not all together as a family of four.

We just chatted, had a slushy, rode the luge and walked the beaches of Sentosa, while waiting for Skye to wrap up a birthday party.

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