To the Lovers We Travel to See
Traveling to see someone can be one of the most endearing forms of love. The way we interact with transit affects our levels of intimacy. It can be argued that the longer the distance, the more one cares. An inconvenient love proves that one will go the distance for you (just think of Vanessa Carlton's "A Thousand Miles"). Take it from me, there is nothing more long distance than standing on a train for an hour headed to a different borough in order to see your bae. Many of our favorite artists dish about what it's like to be "on the way" to see their loved ones— from Twenty88 to Kendrick Lamar, and that damn goddess Aaliyah. Even Nivea's "Parking Lot" chronicles her short drive to the McDonald's parking lot for a quickie. But everyone from the hood knows that there are a lot of McDonald's, so you must be specific in your directions. Just over the hill at the light, take a right. Hang a left on Harris Drive. And please let us not forget that she was blowing this man's line up while he was clearly asleep and had no intention of stopping until he got that ass up to meet her. But we've all been there before. The only difference is that our communication has evolved tremendously— from FaceTimes to ordering your bae's Uber.
"Do some jumping jacks"
"So you don't fall asleep"
It's 3am and I have just dropped my girls off at the hotel. I came to your city looking for loving and licky 'cause you promised to put it down. All up in your city looking for you. We'd ditched our original plans to meet up with him and his friends earlier in the night. It's my first time in his city without him hosting me, and on my voyage to his place I understand why he scolded me for booking a hotel so far away. I'm listening to the radio cranked as far right as possible, some Midnight Soul segment that rotates Babyface's Whip Appeal at least twice hoping that you're not still listening. I am. I'm texting at every stoplight. I'm calling. I'm trying to ensure that his narcolepsy doesn't kick in as quickly as mine always does. 40 minutes pass and I am at my destination. Exhales. Calls. No answer. Fuck. I know this motherfucker is not asleep. There's a woman security guard at the front desk who lets me in because she recognizes me from the last go round. The stars are in my favor. She calls him from the lobby phone. No answer. After a few more calls, she allows me to go upstairs. I knock on the door for what feels like forever before I head back to my hotel in defeat. A 40-minute drive back to the hotel lands me there well after 5am. I wake up to perplexed faces in the hotel I wasn't supposed to stay in and a missed phone call + picture message combo. He'd been asleep downstairs in the lounge area behind the lobby waiting for me the entire time. Motherfucker.
Flying to someone is usually more pleasant, except on a 10 hour excursion or when you travel to Elmira from Ithaca for flight deal's sake, only to be greeted by a man throwing up in the middle seat next to you. I just touched down. Quarter after 2. Flight 102. I know it's late (real late), but I'm calling you. Tryna figure if I can come see you. Can I come see you? Aaliyah croons this sultry melody and, though she seems to have her own agenda, she is intent on seeing her love interest. It's not clear if she's returning home, visiting his city by happenstance, or surprising him but one thing is clear: he is by no means expecting her at this hour. She claims to want no more than to hold him, embrace him, and tell him how much she loves him. She clearly has been missing him, and whether or not the couple was in a fight or have just been away from one another for too long, the song is applicable to various phases of relationships. Aaliyah takes us on her journey from the flight to baggage claim to finally getting in her car. She even takes a quick intermission to charge her phone. Um, wait a minute. My battery's low. Lemme, aight. Her rant and his lack of responsiveness makes me believe that she is rambling on an answering machine hoping that he picks up. It's important to note that self-titled was released in 2001, and answering machines and voicemails alike have been long gone since then. Today, the evolution of transit and communication would likely lend itself to lyrics sang in text format and she'd be hopping in a flat-rate Uber on her way from the airport. Let me know something before I change this address.
Am I in the way? I don't wanna pressure you none. I want your blessing today. Oh by the way, open the door by the way, told you that I'm on the way. Being from Kansas City, we often speak in exit signs and highways— unlike New York's "I'm two stops away," which could mean the distance between 125th street and 42nd on an express train. Before I went off to school, lil baby was already testing out the college waters. He'd called at midnight to wish me a happy birthday and heard the wavering in my voice from an argument with my then-boyfriend. You been crying? he spoke in a hushed tone. Be dressed by 9; I'm coming to get you. And just like that he was speeding through the fast lane for two hours like Plies to take me to my favorite breakfast spot and a movie. Hall Pass. After, he had to drive back two hours in order to study for his exam. Told you that I'm on the way; I'm like an exit away. Young love.
Twenty88 probably best illustrates what it's like in today's society to be in the workforce and, if you're in a major city, hitting a multi-stop change of address in your Uber. I been working all night and now I need to hear you say my name. Where you at? On the way. How far? On the way. Pussy poppin's on the way. I'm excited to see the ways in which transit and communication develop the way we love. Pretty soon, we'll be teleporting to get nasty. I cleared the schedule so you know it's a go.