Alone: A Love Story

Chapter 14: Adrift

Springsteen, my one and done policy, The Bad Ones and an orphan Christmas...
She's saying something but who knows what, the music is so loud and I'm lying in a snow drift anyway. (Ben Shannon/CBC)
Listen to the full episode28:35


This chapter is a series of snapshots of my life in the last few months of 2012, a concentrated swirl of men and booze. Back then, I couldn't go home at night, I just couldn't. I couldn't face an empty apartment and what felt like an empty life to me. It's hard to imagine now, like it's not even me, so I'm glad I wrote these stories down then!

Scene of the Crime

Can you believe the story about Tall Smart Musician living in the exact same building as The Husband's mistress? I mean, really universe! This is why I'm always telling people that the truth is more interesting than anything we make up. They say "write what you know" for a reason! Crazy coincidences like this are always happening to me. At least it made for a good story, and Tall Smart Musician became a true pal of mine, so that's the silver lining here too.

Hot Actor and PG24

Sweet stories about sweet guys. One I suspended the "one and done" policy for, and with the other, I upheld it.

He'd served his purpose. He helped me make it through another night. Now he'd be a memory of a time where for a few hours I forgot I was a grown up, with all its attendant responsibilities and heartache.

That's a little nod to Help Me Make It Through The Night, a song I grew up hearing a lot of, since my mom played it over and over. I think it was on an LP called Country Gold, one of those compilation albums that also had things like The Gambler and 9 to 5.

You know, I have a recording on cassette of my sister singing this song at age five, which is a TOTALLY inappropriate song for a little kid to sing.

Yesterday is dead and gone, and tomorrow's out of sight
And it's sad to be alone, help me make it through the night

The lyrics basically sum up these years of my life! Unfortunately.

PG24 and I argued about the best Springsteen album and you hear me assert that it's 1978's Darkness on the Edge of Town. I love that album and my favourite song from it is Streets of Fire, gee I wonder why.

I live now, only with strangers
I talk to only strangers
I walk with angels that have no place
And don't look at my face
Don't come to my place
'Cause I'm strung out on my wire, cross
Streets of fire

That verse just sums up this whole chapter, doesn't it?

I've always had nothing but admiration for The Boss, even though I don't love every song of his, that's for sure.

There are a whole bunch of musicians I'd list before him on a list of my favourites, but when he gets it right, he gets it sooooo right.

This album is the most consistent Springsteen album for me. My most favourite songs of his are on other albums but they're always sandwiched between a lot of meh.

Darkness is listenable and wild and mature all at once. It's signature dumb car metaphors and also killer lines like Oh, nothing is forgotten or forgiven when it's your last time around. Plus, he looks like a total babe on the album cover. 

I live now, only with strangers

So yeah, as I drifted through this new hazy boozy part of my life, I learned a few things: some guys you never see again, some become your friends, and some are bad. Really, really bad. The Bad Ones.

Sometimes, I didn't walk away from The Bad Ones. There are a million articles you can read now about why so many of us do that.

Here's one you should read. And here is the very best one of all.

Orphan Christmas

The very end of this chapter finds me in a bar on Christmas Day. My first Christmas without my husband and without my Birdie, who was only five-years-old at the time.

It never gets easier, Christmas Day. Year after year, when she leaves at noon to go with her dad and his family, I feel like the whole earth swallows me up. I know, it's just a day, but man, it is weird to not be with your own child that came out of your own body on Christmas. It's hard for me, what can I say.

But the hardest was in 2012, the first Christmas without both of them. Even though I have tons of family I could have spent the rest of that day with, I elected to spend it with people I didn't know very well or at all. That way it wouldn't feel so much like Christmas. To be around my extended family without my own little family? Nope, not gonna do it.

Without my Birdie on Christmas, 2012.

So that's how I end up in a bar in this scene. The bar, by the way, is good ole Ronnie's in Kensington Market. Ronnie's is a great little dive bar on any other day, but I was so sad and removed from reality in this scene. I was actually numb. I actually did feel like lying in a snow drift. Everything was loud and quiet all at once.

I'd spent the day with a group of people who were all friends of my friend The Traveller. She called it "Orphan Christmas" and invited us all, seven in total I think. A few of us became quite good friends that day. But one woman, who was also without her daughter that night, has become a close friend of mine.

Since then, we've spent every single Christmas together. Wherever a party is, whoever throws it, we are there together, drinking and singing and eating and laughing and making it feel like just another day, nothing to be sad about, nothing Christmas about it.

For us, it's the only way to make it through.

Want more Alone: A Love Story

Download the  CBC Radio app, subscribe on  Apple podcasts (or wherever you get your podcasts) or bookmark  this site
You can also join our community on  Facebook and  Twitter, where we share little gems you may or may not hear on the podcast. Talk soon!