Chapter 20: Someone Good
Welcome to the final chapter of Season 2! The title is a lyric from the song Perfect Day by Lou Reed, that I make a big deal of later on in the chapter:
I thought I was someone else, someone good
This vignette is the same scene that starts Season 1! Didya notice? Of course here, it has fallen in its chronological place and we hear a new and longer version of it.
Oh, my 39th birthday. The bar we were in is called The Libertine and here's a blurry photo from that night of a server lighting a fancy drink on fire for me.
I wake up the next morning in The Man with the White Shirt's bed, unable to make sense of what's happened to the life I once knew.
White Shirt makes eggs. He's No Shirt right now, which I wish you could see because wow, but that's beside the point.
I do love a man that can cook eggs. No joke, it's right up there with great smile, great in bed, and eyes that turn me into a cartoon character who's been hypnotized.
Maybe I need to re-evaluate my criteria. SIGH.
I do a direct steal from Band of Horses in this line:
I don't know what I'm doing or who I've become but I realize I can't move. I'm just exhausted — physically, emotionally, spiritually. I'm at a crossroads with myself, again.
In the song Laredo, Ben Bridwell sings:
Gonna take a trip to Laredo, Gonna take a dip in the lake
Oh, I'm at a crossroads with myself, I don't got no one else
I just love the idea of being at a crossroads with yourself. There's no better way to put it, it feels exactly like that sometimes, doesn't it?
At the end of Loss, Revisited I say:
Although I'm not ready to let him go just yet, I know this will last another week, tops, before I break things off.
It's true, I did in fact break up with The Man with the White Shirt only six days later, on his birthday. Yes, that's right, we are born the exact same week, which makes us Double Scorpio!
This is a bad match according to astrologers — "Scorpio and Scorpio have this tendency to bring out the worst in each other." SIGH.
His 38th birthday was the first time we broke up. Now it's been like, I don't know, three or four THOUSAND times? This is why the illustration for this chapter is an ouroboros, the visual representation of a love that goes round and round.
This is the Last Time
I'm not going to tell you whether or not the romp with The Ex-husband in this vignette was, in fact, the last time. Sorry!
Oh, but your love is such a swamp, you don't think before you jump
And I said I wouldn't get sucked in
I... I... I... I... This is the last time.
Man, that's good. Nothing I love more than swampy, swampy love. I mean, have you heard this podcast?
As you hear in this scene, The Ex-husband took to calling White Shirt my "Pretty Boyfriend" for awhile there.
"Right! Your pretty boyfriend!" he says.
I mean, it isn't the worst nickname, and also, it's true (see my cartoon fractals-for-eyes above.) But whenever he called him that it always made me think of the song Pretty Boy by Montreal band Young Galaxy.
I love this song. And some of the lyrics are very applicable to me and White Shirt. But I could say that about 90% of all the songs ever recorded, because I find him in everything. I know, BARF. But whatever, I am unapologetic about my relentless romanticism. Young Galaxy say it best in the chorus:
I don't care if the disbelievers don't understand
You're my pretty boy, always
This scene starts with the party that I first mentioned in the park bench scene in Chapter 19:
I don't make a decision. I can't. All I keep thinking about is my birthday party coming up in a few days. The one where I invited all of my oldest and dearest friends so they could meet my new boyfriend. Ugh.
So yeah, there we are at the party, where White Shirt is the best co-host/best not-boyfriend ever, and none of my friends know about the crushing park bench conversation.
And because they don't know about it, they all thought he was my new boyfriend. And because they thought he was my new boyfriend, they bought me unicorn-themed birthday gifts like a vintage bell with a unicorn as the handle and a pair of unicorn earrings. I mean, GAH.
Anyway, then the scene switches to The Ex-husband and the next day, the official date our divorce becomes final and the death of one of my musical heroes, Lou Reed.
Poor Lou, like some kind of punk rock bookend to the story of us. His song "Perfect Day" was our wedding song. I mean, really universe, when you get married Lou Reed sings a song? And when you get divorced he dies?
It's a pretty crazy coincidence.
Anyway, Alone producer Veronica Simmonds pointed out that she'd always thought Perfect Day to be a sarcastic song and was surprised we saw it as a love song. Enough to be our wedding song! It's strange that I never saw it that way. But now that she said it, I kind of DO hear it that way, which makes it weird, but no less beautiful.
Anyway, the one thing I do know, is that for our wedding dance, I edited out the "reap what you sow" refrain at the end of the song. Even I could see that was a bit dark for a wedding!
For our actual wedding dance, I edited the song down to two minutes because the idea of slow dancing in front of 160 people was MORTIFYING to me.
There were two other songs on the short list for our first dance, and I cut those both down to two minutes also! We actually did a test run where we danced to all three in our basement apartment, and decided on Perfect Day.
The other two songs were Harvest Moon by Neil Young (I am a massive Neil Young fan and we got married on Thanksgiving Weekend so it thematically fit) and The Book of Loveby The Magnetic Fields (I LOVE THIS SONG so hard, but it's also melancholy like Perfect Day. I guess I like swampy love songs as much as I love swampy love!)
"We tangled our minds and hearts together"
If you're still into reading more about life and love, then I urge you to read Laurie Anderson's tribute to Lou Reed. It is the single most beautiful description of what a marriage can be. What a partnership is. A friendship.
It shows how compromise and commitment can be synonymous with individual growth and fulfilment.
As Anderson says in the tribute, "Somehow, for 21 years, we tangled our minds and hearts together." For 21 years, the two of them had it right, man.
This season chronologically ends in October 2013 during the week of the finalization of the divorce, the death of Lou Reed and both mine and White Shirt's birthdays.
This final scene is a flash-forward that tells you yes, while I close the door on The Ex-husband, it has swung wide on The Man with the White Shirt. Round and round we go, four more years of that circular and complicated love story to come.
And so, I will give the almost-last word on Season 2 to Lou Reed (from his song Magic and Loss):
There's a bit of magic in everything
And then some loss to even things out …
Which brings us to the theme song that's carried us through this whole season, Hard Times by Yahenda.
After these hard times are over things will be better, honest
You'll break wide open and let love out and wonder what you were sad about.
Thank you for listening to my hard times, my silver linings, my stories of magic and loss. Break open your hearts, everyone, and let love out.
Want to keep up with Alone: A Love Story? Listen for free on your favourite podcast app.
About Michelle Parise
Award-winning producer Michelle Parise is the writer, performer and producer of Alone: A Love Story, a book she began writing in January 2013 and adapted into a podcast for CBC in 2017.
She's worked for CBC Radio and Television for over two decades. Michelle was born and raised in Toronto in a gigantic Italian immigrant family where she was surrounded by storytellers.
As a child she wrote hundreds of short stories about her life. Her commitment to honest storytelling started early and is part of everything she creates, continually striving to make connection through shared experience.