Alone: A Love Story

Chapter 17: The Lonely

Bob Dylan on my old guitar, what lonely feels like and just another tequila cupcake ...
He could never remember the name and would always ask me to play him "the sad, sad song." (Ben Shannon/CBC)
Listen to the full episode27:01

What Lonely Feels Like

This vignette is really more of a poem. And it hasn't changed much at all since it first poured out of me.

I remember one summer day soon after I wrote it, I was lying on a blanket in the park with my friend The Bright One. We were talking about life and love and men and loneliness (as we often do) and I read it to her.

When I was done, we just lay on our backs and looked up at the sky poking through the tree branches above us. We stayed quiet for a really long time and then she said, "You hit it right on, Michie. Right. ON."  

And then we went back to quietly looking at this.

And here it is transcribed for you.

What Lonely Feels Like 

Loneliness is every cliché imaginable.  

It's me, adrift on an ocean, unmoored, nothing to be anchored to, no land for miles. 

It's me standing at the bottom of a well, a canyon, a crater, with nothing but vultures circling overhead, waiting for me to just give up and die already. 

It's me waiting. But I don't even know what I'm waiting for.

It's me, except my humour, warmth and self-esteem have been siphoned out, replaced by a wispy, petulant yearning that everyone can spot from a distance and smell up close.

Loneliness seeps out of my pores. It floats around me like a cloud, no matter how I try to be normal, to be nonchalant, to be a person that's okay with being alone. 

Lonely is a parasite that invaded my body and now I'm host to it. I serve it hors d'oeuvres and champagne.

Lonely is there with me in the bar, getting me round after round so I can forget why I'm there in the first place. It drunk-texts people who really wish I would stop doing that.  

Lonely flags a cab down for me and…whoever this guy is beside me. 

It wakes me up in the morning and says hello first thing so I know it's still there with me.  

Lonely squeezes my hand when I drop my daughter off at school knowing I won't see her again for six whole days.

Lonely gets my sunglasses out for me so the other parents don't have to see me crying again as I exit the school.  

Lonely is the most consistent thing in my life now, the only constant. It's always there for me when I don't need it. 

Loneliness is my new boyfriend, I guess. We walk arm and arm through the city streets.  

Envy winds its way through me

Oh, finalmente! My lovely friend Solo Time gets a little vignette in Alone: A Love Story! Her friendship is so important to me, especially back then when this story takes place.

Tequila + cupcakes = YES

I was so envious of how much she loved time to herself in her own space. How secure she was and patient with whatever life had to offer.

In addition to assuring me I would love my solo time one day (she was right! It took six years, but now I do love it!) there were other things she did that were once in this story, but we cut for time and clarity.

Like how she was the one who organized my 38th birthday party in The Year of The Bomb, knowing that for the previous 12 years, The Husband had planned all my parties. She made sure everyone I love, plus a ton of tequila, were there for me.

Big Laugh got her amazing sister the baker to make tiny tequila-themed cupcakes even. I have good friends. 

I end this vignette quoting the U2 song  Stay (Faraway, So Close!)

Leaving me alone. Really alone. While two-thirds of my little family live across the street. Faraway, so close. As I navigate my own solo time.

U2 cribbed it too, borrowing the title from the Wim Wenders film Faraway, So Close! which they wrote it for (and were nominated for an Academy Award for also!)

It's a solid U2 song, with some pretty good lines. My favourite being:

Red lights, grey morning, you stumble out of a hole in the ground
A vampire or a victim, It depends on who's around.

It ain't him, either

This whole vignette is about the 1964 song It Ain't Me, Babe  by Bob Dylan.

It's about my imagined idea of the romantic relationship between Bob Dylan and Joan Baez. It's about how The Husband always requested I play him "the sad, sad song" and how, even though there was one particular line sitting there like a pit of despair in the third verse, I would always sing it for him.

The line?  

Go melt back in the night, babe, everything inside is made of stone.
There's nothing in here moving, and anyway I'm not alone.

GAH. Kill me now! Is this the biggest kiss-off song ever written? Discuss.

For most of my life I assumed that this song was about Baez, but turns out Dylan wrote it about his girlfriend Suze Rotolo. Rotolo is the one in that amazing photo on the cover of Dylan's 1963 album The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan. It's such a natural, beautiful photo.

Dylan's own description of the first time he ever saw Suze Rotolo, is just THE BEST. In his memoir, Chronicles: Volume One, he wrote:

She was the most erotic thing I'd ever seen. She was fair skinned and golden haired, full-blood Italian. The air was suddenly filled with banana leaves.

The air was filled with banana leaves!! So good. Hard to believe four years later he was like, nah and wrote It Ain't Me, Babe about her. AGGGG LOVE, am I right?

The Matchmaker

This vignette is partially an echo of what I say in The Babies way back in Chapter 12. All the single women in Toronto but seemingly no single men. Or no single men that want to be in a relationship and/or aren't one of The Babies.

The Matchmaker was (is!) amazing. She started her own personal matchmaking business (which has now grown and grown to include more matchmakers in different cities.)

But at the time this all takes place (in 2013) she had a real dilemma among her heterosexual clients. There were three times as many women as men signing up. So what ended up happening is that those men were paired with a lot of amazing ladies, even if they themselves were just meh. There were THREE TIMES AS MANY OF US, see what I'm getting at? Ugh.

Anyway, this is also the scene where we get another tease to The Man with the White Shirt's imminent arrival. For all you White Shirt shippers out there, the rest of this love story is for you!

FYI - The "folder of favourites" isn't on my phone anymore, ok? But it was there for a long time with the title "Zing!" haha I don't why.

Later, I also had a folder of photos of just The Man with White Shirt (affectionately titled "XO") which grew to like, 300+ photos because I am also Team White Shirt no matter how I try not to be.

But you knew that already. Hello, Chapters 18-20!

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