Alone: A Love Story

Chapter 1: Not if, how

Tarot cards, The Musician vs The Scientist and a crossroads at 39.
She turns over the first card. LOSS. It says loss. (Alone/CBC)
Listen to the full episode19:34

Loss

Alone: A Love Story begins on my 39th birthday, in the fall of 2013. The opening vignette called Loss is what the publishing world would call a prologue. A teaser for what's to come. Foreshadowing.

The stories in this podcast are mostly in chronological order, starting in the summer of 1999 when I first meet The Scientist (aka The Husband, aka The Ex-husband), and ending in the summer of 2012 after the bomb is dropped on me and our marriage has ended.

Sometimes though, I do little "flash-forwards". (Nerd alert! I was a massive fan of the TV show Lost and their non-linear storytelling.) So this opening scene with the tarot reader and my swoony mooning over The Man With the White Shirt is a flash forward, meant to set up what's to come. (News flash! Heartbreak!)

The tarot card reader had a little notebook and pen (My two favourite things!) in the closet we were in that night. So I took notes.

I always take notes.

As you listen to Alone: A Love Story, you may wonder how I remember everything people say and the answer is: I write it down.

I really actually do. I like to capture moments this way. And I'm always writing real moments as stories. I don't know why.

Check out this early draft of the vignette,Loss:

It's a bit different than what's in the podcast, since here it looks like I wrote a lot more detail about why I'm being rude to The Man With the White Shirt.

He pops up in a few more flash-forwards in later episodes. Let's just say he's pretty important. Every time he shows up, you'll hear the same song, or variations on it. It's called Blow Away by the artist Yahenda.

Fun fact: Yahenda is The Man With the White Shirt, which is why I chose one of his songs to be his leitmotif. The lyrics to Blow Away always struck a chord with me, and the song just seemed right, you know?

Okay, enough about him. Yeesh!

Y2K

This vignette is the chronological beginning of the story. Me at 24, in 1999, hence the title Y2K. If you're old enough to remember it, Y2K was supposed to be the end of everything, but like, nothing happened. That's not even a metaphor, it's just actually the boring truth at the end of mass hysteria.

Anyway, there I was in the year of mass hysteria, doing my artsy thing with my artsy boyfriend until The Scientist arrives and shakes everything up with his eyes like missiles and his kiss like a hundred orgasms.

We can't use commercial music in the podcast, but if we could, his leitmotif would have been The Scientist by Coldplay. Not just because I called him The Scientist, but because when the song came out in 2002 (the year we got married) I was obsessed with the way it felt to listen to it. I know that sounds cheezy, but there you have it. And even the lyrics so perfectly seemed to capture our artsy-girl/science-boy romance:

I was just guessing at numbers and figures, pulling your puzzles apart 
Questions of science, science and progress, don't speak as loud as my heart
  

It still brings me to tears and I'm not even a Coldplay fan, jeez.

As it is, the leitmotif I use for The Scientist/Husband/Ex-husband in pretty much every episode of Alone, is a little song I wrote in 1999 called Orbit.

It's the only song I ever wrote for The Scientist/The Husband/Ex-Husband. Oh wait, I actually wrote another song about him earlier this year in the middle of a snowstorm in Charlottetown. That one was called Judas which you know, OBVIOUSLY.

I haven't written any songs since my 20s, but there I was in February 2017 writing one and about The Ex-husband! There on the 5th anniversary of the day he dropped The Bomb on me. There, trapped in an East Coast snowstorm with The Man With the White Shirt (agg, I know, I know!) out came the song Judas — the lyrics, the melody, everything.

A little terrible anniversary gift to no one.

Meanwhile, in that same snowbound hotel room, White Shirt was making Orbit, my old song about The Husband, into a new real version. It sounds so weird now that I'm writing it out, but seriously, that's what was happening!

See, the only recording I had of Orbit is a crappy one, on a cassette, of me performing it at an open mic night at the  Free Times Cafe in Toronto, in November 1999.

Nearly 20 years later, snowbound in the birthplace of Canada in 2017, The Man With the White Shirt took that recording of 25-year old me and built a whole song out of it. Because he actually knows how to write songs! I re-recorded my vocals, and voila, that's what you hear as The Scientist/Husband/Ex-husband's leitmotif for the podcast.

Here's the whole song to listen to if you want. Remember I was 25 when I wrote it, OKAY?

Spoiler alert! Disregard that wishful-thinking hashtag below. White Shirt and I are still best friends and the whole thing is its own beautiful complicated beast, but it's more like #justlovebutnotthecommittedrelationshipkindoranything

Alas.

13 years later

Not much to say about this vignette other than I hope I didn't make you cry too much. The other producer of Alone, the amazing Veronica Simmonds, basically spent all summer working on this with me and crying. I made her cry in the studio while we recorded the episodes, she cried while mixing them, when we got burritos, everything!

If I didn't make you cry with this one, still have tissues hanging around just in case. There are going to be some doozies coming up.

I mean, sometimes life and love are so unbelievably confusing and sad, and we all act in inexplicable ways, don't we?

Love, man, what a killer!