Alone: A Love Story

Chapter 2: Why not?

The proposal, a wedding DJ named Pino and everything is full of promise.
It felt different to love like this. It felt like a hurricane. (Alone/CBC)
Listen to the full episode21:37

Hurricane

We start this chapter of Alone: A Love Story in the year 2000. I have just moved out of my five year common-law relationship with The Musician and into my relationship with The Scientist.

We are off to a tumultuous start, what with the nothing in common and the difficulty communicating. But we are also madly in love, and so totally, totally into each other. Which is why I named the vignette Hurricane, and why I quote Neil Young in the story, saying: It felt different to love like this. It felt like a hurricane.

Music nerd alert!

The appeal of Neil Young for me has always been how loose he is when it comes to recording. His unashamed approach to song production is based on how a take feels, not how technically perfect and polished it is. Kinda like my approach to life and love, you know? A wonderful parallel to my relationship with The Scientist in those early days.  

Recording Like a Hurricane was no different. Crazy Horse only played the song once, and that's the take on the album. Neil did his vocals separately, but in one take as well. The song is a rambly, shuffley mess — the beginning of the song is cut off, he sings flat for at least half of it, and someone even hits a mic stand somewhere in the middle.

It's perfect.

It starts with arguably one of the greatest guitar solos in rock history, he sings for a bit in the middle, and then ends with non-arguably the greatest guitar solo in rock history. It also has one of my favourite lyrics in it ever — I saw your brown eyes turning once to fire.

Like a Hurricane is the reason I taught myself to play guitar at age 20, just so I could sing it around a campfire. It's still my go-to song around the fire, or when I'm jamming with my friends, and it always, always, makes me think of The Ex-husband. It did feel different to love him. It did feel like a hurricane.

In this vignette, you hear me mention that I move into a little bachelor apartment. It was in The Annex, a neighbourhood in Toronto that's pretty fancy-pants now, but was still rag-tag at the turn of this century.

I also mention Honest Ed's, a Toronto institution that sadly closed its doors forever on December 31, 2016. Me and Birdie and The Man With the White Shirt all went on the last day and wandered sadly through the empty rooms and picked-clean bins, as I regaled them with my many memories of the place.

In 2000-2001, when this chapter takes place, Honest Ed's famous light bulb alley was my way home on many a night. My apartment was just at the end of the alley and up a fire escape.

Honest Ed's was such an important part of my life, it's weird. I just loved it there. It was so dingy and quirky, and it felt like you were in an M.C. Escher piece, just going up and down stairs and getting totally lost. You'd end up spending $30 on a collection of rando things you didn't even know you wanted, and all you went in for was a pack of batteries.

One of my favourite Honest Ed signs was in the alley — COME IN AND GET LOST!

There's a section of this vignette where I talk more about the differences between me and The Scientist and how we learned to love the things the other person loved. Or at least, we tried.

I mention teaching him how to count out time signatures by listening to Led Zeppelin songs and slapping the time out on his thighs. I can't remember which song we did this to, but if I was allowed to use commercial music in the podcast (against the rules!) I would have used Babe, I'm Gonna Leave You, because you know, FORESHADOWING.

This vignette ends on September 13, 2001 when he surprise-asks me to marry him. Like, what? I was so genuinely surprised, we'd really never talked about it. I always joked to him later that I was the last girl in Toronto that wanted to get married! But there he was, asking me to marry him, ring in hand.

The awkward part about this surprise-proposal was that it was two days after 9/11. I was honestly embarrassed by it and didn't tell anyone that we even got engaged until a full week later. It just felt so inappropriate given the circumstances.

We're in awe of each other, since we're from totally different planets, since the other person seems capable of powers we can't possess.- Michelle Parise

Later, I heard that marriage-rates often get a boost in times of crisis. Something about people seeking security in uncertain times.

And there's evidence that 9/11 had an impact on marital stability — including how the number of people filing for divorce post-9/11 in New York dropped by 32% as well as significantly in Philadelphia, Los Angeles and parts of New Jersey. I wonder, since we're only an 8 hour drive away, if it was the same in Toronto?

But I'm no psychologist. Who knows what he was thinking that day? All I know is, I didn't exactly say yes, I said "Why not?" which is the title of this episode of the podcast.

Why not just go for it when you're 27 and in love? That's what I was thinking. Take a chance!

I stand by it. Right now, whether you're 27 or 37 or 77 or whatever, just take a chance on love! WHY NOT? This is the only life you've got, don't sit around waiting! I mean, sure, your heart could be split open with an ax like mine was, but it could also be wonderful! How boring not to find out!

It's nuts how much I still believe in love.

10 years later

This little vignette takes place in 2011 and is a juxtaposition of the preceding story. An all too real description of how love can change so much over the span of 10 years.

I hope if you are long-term coupled right now that you will never have to feel the way it feels in this vignette. And if you have, I'm sorry, and I know how awful it is to become invisible in your own home and not even know why.

Compromise

But back to being newly engaged in 2001! I love this vignette because it's full of sweet stories about the year we were engaged, and the mystifying ride we willingly took on the Industrial Wedding Planning Machine.

And all relationships are about compromise to some degree, aren't they? So I know you're with me when I compromise all over the place to make everyone else have the wedding of their dreams. I was like the opposite of a Bridezilla. What would that be? A Ghostbride? Invisibride?

Ugh.

Music nerd alert!

The song that we had on in the car as we drove drove up the Don Valley Parkway to our wedding reception, my veil out the window, etc. was No Doubt's Underneath it All.

That CD was the only one in our brand new car. So we played it a lot.

Gwen Stefani wrote this song about Gavin Rossdale and their very mis-matched but hurricane-inducing romance.

There's times where I want something more, someone more like me
There's times when this dress rehearsal seems incomplete

I was sad to hear it when Gwen and Gavin, the poster-couple for rock love in the 2000s, ended their marriage because he had an affair.

Man, you can't even be Gwen Stefani and escape the pain of betrayal! Pfffft.