Alone: A Love Story

Chapter 11: Hold It Together

Sex, sailboats and a Dark 'n Stormy. I kick off Season 2 with first times and quantum leaps ...
Life said to me: There's a yacht, go sail it or something! So damn it, am I ever gonna try. (Ben Shannon/CBC)
Listen to the full episode22:23

Where the story begins

The first vignette you hear in Season 2 is actually the very first thing I ever wrote in what was to become Alone: A Love Story.

I wrote it sitting there just as you hear me talking about it, at 6:10 p.m. eating a fried egg and having a Dark 'n Stormy.

I've been writing my whole life, but there was something different about this night in January 2013. Up until then, I always wrote personal stuff in notebooks, and professional stuff on computers. I write every single day at work as a journalist, but in broadcast style. Typing my thoughts comes out naturally in that style. Longhand writing comes out differently, more raw and personal because there's no intended audience.

But for some reason on that night, I opened up my laptop and, drink in hand, wrote what you hear here as the opening scene of Season 2. I wrote it for me, in my signature style, but this time with an intended audience. I hadn't articulated it to myself yet, but it was happening. I was writing something for you.

The title of this vignette is stolen verbatim from We Become Our Own Wolves, the title of a 2008 song by Alberta musician Rae Spoon.

I love this song, and I also (obviously) love the title. It's so evocative. At this point in my life I really did feel like I became my own wolf. Rae nailed it on the head. That feeling of devouring ourselves when we don't know what else to do or are powerless to stop it.

My leitmotif this season

This vignette features a song called Hard Times by the artist Yahenda. In the podcast, I like to use leitmotifs for certain recurring characters, but in Season 1 there wasn't a leitmotif for me. This season demanded it, and Hard Times was my choice.

I feel connected to the lyrics, which mirror especially this particular time in my life, when I used alcohol and sex to deal with the tremendous blow I felt I'd been dealt when I found out my husband had an affair and everything I knew to be real and good was suddenly all gone in one swift instant.

This song is like a mantra. Not because I need a man to tell me everything's going to be okay, but because we ALL need to tell ourselves — and each other — that after these hard times are over, things will get better, honest.

Sex. I talk a lot about it this season!

I apologize to family members and colleagues if this embarrasses you, but it's important for me to be open about these things.

Women's sexuality is presented to us more than it's presented by us.

So I feel compelled to present my own lived sexual experience, in all its subtlety and contradiction, because I'm tired of the world doing it for me.

I compare this new phase of my life to sailing. Without a map. Or a f---ing clue about boats.

And that was honestly how it felt to me. And honestly why I asked my friend Big Laugh's Quiet Husband what I should do.

Here is me that night, after he gave me the advice. Quiet Husband stayed home while Big Laugh and I went out for drinks after we had our dinner.

This is the face of a sad woman who has NO IDEA what kind of a sailboat she would be getting on the next night! Haha! Oh, man. 

The Man with the White Shirt

You cannot believe the amount of mail I get from people all over the world who ask about The Man with the White Shirt.

What happens next with him?  

You're too good for him!

I feel like I'm obsessed with him now too!


These are all real things you asked me.

Veronica Simmonds, who produces Alone with me, thought it would be fun to make you wait until Chapter 17 which is where, chronologically, he showed up in real life. And I agreed. MAKE THEM WAIT!! we cackled at our desks.

Oh, come on Parise! You don't adhere to chronological storytelling!  Okay, okay, you're right. I don't like linear storytelling nearly as much as I love Quantum Leap-ing all OVER the place!

So we decided to put the flash forward vignette called When He's Here into the very first episode of Season 2, strategically placed just before I hop on the ole yacht called Hookup Culture.

It's such a poetic, impressionistic three minute love letter to The Man with the White Shirt and the first three months after we met — a blissful time when I wasn't on the hookup sea.  A giant, over-the-top love letter that, I'm sorry, will not answer any of your questions. See how we did that? Flash forward, flash back!


The first guy is significant for being the first

I mean, not much to say here about the last vignette in this chapter other than what I already said in the podcast! First Guy ushered me into a whole new phase of my life — having sex that has nothing to do with love. For better or worse, this is the real jumping off point for this season. No land for miles.

Here we goooooo.

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