I HUGGED A STRANGER

Back in 1998, I was living in New York City. I had just started graduate school, moved into an apartment building on 3rd Avenue and 11th Street, and kept a checklist of "All The Things To Do While Living in NYC." 

One of those "NYC to-do's" was to go to Rockefeller Center and see one of the early concerts that the morning shows hosted. So, when the time came, I grabbed my friend Todd, and boarded the subway, hoping to get a good spot near the stage. 

As we emerged from underground, all Todd and I could hear was the wall of sound. We were shocked. It was too early for there to be a big crowd, right? 

Well, it wasn't too early if that crowd was there to see Prince. 

Todd, who is about a foot taller than I am, had a great view no matter where he stood. I, at 5'3", couldn't see past the shoulders of most. 

When Prince took to the stage, Todd had offered to lift me up on his shoulders (Note: this was almost 20 years ago. Before children. Before menopause. During a time when it wouldn't have been a big deal for anyone to hoist me up on their shoulders.) But, a very clear glance from a fellow New Yorker (who are we kidding, I was still a tourist in the city), communicated "Oh hell no. Don't even think about it."

So, I didn't.

I spent the next 30 minutes just dancing around, listening to the music-mixed-with-screaming, and took Todd's word that, "Prince looks amazing!"

The concert ended.

Todd shared all of Prince's moves and his outfits and what he looked like. 

I secretly wished I had seen him myself.

And, feeling a little bit sad and disappointed (for myself), we began our walk to the subway to head to work.

I turned the corner.

And, there, standing in front of me.

Was Prince.

I'm going to pretend like he made eye contact with me and nodded his chin in the familiar, "I see you" sort of way. But, truthfully, he probably just was trying to get to his car and his massive, beautiful hair was just bouncing up and down. 

I'm going to pretend like he knew I hadn't see any of his show and was like, "I wonder which way that foxy lady in the crowd - the one who couldn't see over anyone's heads -- was walking, because I'm going to walk that way."

I'm going to pretend like I had something brilliant to say like, "Thank you, Prince."

No. I froze.

I stared. 

I ....

I cried.

And then I turned around and saw a woman. Frozen. Staring. Crying. 

With tears streaming down our faces, uncontrollably, we saw each other. We saw each other's emotions.

And, we hugged. 

That was the last time I had ever hugged a stranger.

Thank you, Prince, for the soundtrack of my college years. For "When Doves Cry". For "7". For "Diamonds and Pearls." For giving me the chance to see the humanity in another.

Peace and love, 

Liza