Travelers and Homebodies: Can it Work?
These days, if I’m not on a trip I’m probably planning one. Whether its for work, a family obligation, or to explore a country on my “must-see-before-I-die” list, traveling is constantly on my brain. So of course I’m considering what this means for my love life! And after talking to a few members of the Nomadness Travel Tribe (a traveling group I belong to), I got the memo that “nomads,” a.k.a. frequent travelers, may be more likely to be single. Arrrrr!!
Truth be told, I am not okay with that. And unfortunately the solution is not as simple as dating a fellow nomad. Even within the Nomadness Travel Tribe, their statistics show that the group of over 4,500 members is 80% female. Not very good odds for a woman seeking a man within the tribe.
So does that mean my only option will be to one day slow down and stay put when I meet the next “boo”? According to Davine, one of my recent interviewees, the answer is no:
Do you think there can be compromise in a relationship between a nomad and a non-traveler? Or is that a breakup waiting to happen? Sound off!
Veralyn Williams is a Multimedia Freelance Journalist currently working in New York City. She has spent 4 years at WNYC Radio working with various departments including: Radio Rookies, Culture, News, and Freakonomics. She also freelances for Black Enterprise, BronxNet Television, Bedsider, and The Museum for African Art. Her independent work is featured on her website VeralynMedia.com. Through all of her endeavors she aims to give a voice to perspectives that are often forgotten in the media.
Sex and Song: Prince, “Strange Relationship”
You don’t need to be a musician to appreciate the connection between sex and music. Still, we thought it would be fun to hear what they have to say about it. In our “Sex and Song” series, curated by drummer and producer Katy Otto, musicians share a song about sex, love, or both, and what it means to them.
TRIGGER WARNING: This piece discusses abuse within the context of partner violence.
Prince tends to threaten lawsuits on anybody who posts his original music, so Andy decided to record her own version of “Strange Relationship.”
Prince has made a lot of different types of love songs through the years. Two were based on driving-as-sex metaphors (“Dirty Mind” and “Little Red Corvette”), one (“Darling Nikki”) outraged Tipper Gore and led to the advent of Parental Advisory labels, and one explored the possibilities of sexiness while keeping one’s pants on (“The Ballad of Dorothy Parker”). Then there are the love songs that Prince sang as a woman named Camille.
My Minnesotan queer friends tell me Prince is something of a gay-hater these days, but he can’t take back the queerness of those days in ‘86 and ‘87 when he sped up his vocals, took on the persona of Camille, and sang a handful of smart, gender-bending songs. Singing as Camille, Prince arguably wrote the most prescient, subtle love songs of his career. As if to balance out all of the reckless, fun sex jams of his wonder years, “Strange Relationship” is a downer, taking on the decidedly un-sexy but super-important subject of emotional abuse.
“I know you know me well, I don’t like winter,” Camille begins, “but I seem to get a kick out of doin’ ya cold.” Let’s parse what’s going on here: Camille says that she is the abuser; she’s intentional about it. She could stop it. And she continues: “Oh what the hell, you always surrender.” And in one verse, Camille has unfolded two key, interlocking elements of abuse: that it’s the abuser’s fault, and still the abuser will blame the surviving partner.
The chorus takes us through the whole cycle, from the obvious abuse—“Baby, I just can’t stand to see you happy”—to pleading and maybe reconciliation—“more than that, I hate to see you sad”—to more victim blaming: “Baby, if you let me I just might do something rash.” Terrifying. Stark. Vital. “Strange Relationship” teaches the listener about the psychology of a victimizer in three minutes.
Earlier recordings of this song feature Prince—the non-Camille version—singing the song (prominently, with a sitar and slightly different lyrics; I used these earlier lyrics in my cover version posted above). That Prince made “Strange Relationship” into a Camille song is also notable and thought-provoking: the Camille vocal drives home the point that abusive behavior can come from people of multiple genders.
Prince has touched on many aspects of love throughout his career, but his true measure as an artist is that he has written about the joy and the pain with equal amounts of intelligence, efficiency, and attention to detail. Romance can yield both wonder and evil, and there’s justice—especially in our era of short attention spans—that someone spent time making that point into something radio-friendly.
Andy Bowen is an organizer and artist. She plays bass for the DC punk band Southern Problems; is Social Policy Organizer for DC Trans Coalition, a transgender activist organization; and is releasing her first solo album, the 26th Anniversary Edition, in May. You can hear her music and follow her etherized presence at andymbowen.com.
Get back on that horse. You might want to take some time off before you explore romance again. That’s fine, but don’t let it go too far. You want to gain strength and get centered, not become so fearful of love (and getting hurt again) that you avoid it.
Sometimes the unfamiliar can trigger a little insecurity. Don’t let it. Feel confident with the new and different. You’re allowed to learn and grow and not know everything. Nobody will judge you for that (except asshats). Stay open. It’s a very sexy quality.
The Middle Ages had courtly love, punishments for doing anything but the missionary position, condoms made from animal bladders, and fashionable gigantic codpieces to bring attention to a man’s winky.
Create the life you want. You don’t have to do anything except the stuff that pays the rent and makes you happy. If you want to have a kid, there are ways to do that. (Until then, there’s birth control.) If you want to be a homeowner, work towards it. And if you want to shack up without the formality of a marriage certificate, go for it. Just don’t ever feel bad about your choice if you choose not to marry.
No woman should ever stand in front of a man and ask him to love her. Literally or metaphorically. The man worth having will love you long before the question even crosses your mind.