Driving up to Hornby Island, British Columbia past uniform forests created by the forest industries on the rolling hills of the east coast of Vancouver Island alone with the dog. My oldest son, Henry, was in Florida amid the angst of starting a professional golf career while plagued by yet another injury, my youngest son, George, was having hellafun at the Sasquatch music festival, and my husband, James, was cycling diagonally across France with long-time comrades. I scrolled through my tunes, glancing back and forth from tiny screen to asphalt, and clicked on a song rediscovered while compiling a playlist for The Writer’s Union of Canada’s recent AGM booze cruise – HOME by Lene Lovich.
Lovich was a quirky, gothic cabaret, disco-punk singer in the eighties, linked with Nina Hagen, the Deutche, hyper-camp performance artist prone to thrilling operatic outbursts. Their weltanshauung was both arch and laced with earnestness, their lyrics perhaps layered, perhaps ultimately thin. They wore a helluva lot of eye-liner, mugged the exaggerated facial expressions of eyelash-fluttering pre-talkie movie stars and used their voices like percussive instruments emitting squeaks, squeals, and guttural mutterings – Blondie if she were the slightly demonic, burlesque Berliner.
In her lyrics Lovich sets up home as: so remote; sticking in the throat; hard to swallow; like a rock; good clean living; suspicious; close control; so much fuss. She delivers the counterpoint with throaty, seductive, rebellious release: “Let’s go to your place.” The world expands. Air wooshes in through the open car window. Even uniform forests bring fresh air.
In Uganda recently, in the Bodongo Forest at the southern end of Murchison Falls National Park, I saw chimpanzees in the wild. On a par with my life’s all time greatest thrills: hearing the call start with one chimp and almost immediately erupt into a chorus that filled the forest. The sound of exuberance, exposure and total connection. Our knowledgeable researcher Evelyn told us that it is the females who leave their natal group in order to avoid inbreeding. They remember their mother and siblings and come home to visit, leaving their offspring behind so they aren’t murdered by males who know they’re not the father.
The social structure in Uganda, as in many traditional societies, is founded on women leaving their families of origin when they marry and moving to the husband’s family.
Now there is new research http://www.nytimes.com/2013/05/26/magazine/unexcited-there-may-be-a-pill… showing that it is more often women who lose interest in monogamous sex, and who are more excited by the figure of a stranger.
What did I feel, my children grown up, the nest their father and I built empty, one parent in the grave, another grieving and housebound, listening to this song alone on the road? ‘Your place’ is not yet the believer’s metaphor for my final resting place, thank God, nor is it the man-cave of a new sexual interest, but it is a place not of my own making, and I have an urge to go there more than ever.