Alone: A Love Story

Chapter 25 - Lost

Cold legs, wanderlust and living by the tides.
Both sides of the Atlantic have mellowed me out this summer. (Ben Shannon/CBC)

We start this chapter in 2016. If you love the numbers game like I do, that makes it four-and-a-half years from the end of my marriage and nearly three years of going round in circles with The Man With the White Shirt.

So I begin with a vignette called Dating, where I tell you plainly how disheartening and stupid it feels for me to be in my forties and dating.

Ugh. The ones you like, don't like you, the ones that like you, you don't like.

(Michelle Parise)

I guess some people find it fun. I know some people find it fun. But for me and most of the single women I know, dating is so soul-sucking and depressing we've all pretty much stopped doing it altogether. Netflix is the new husband.

But back in 2016, I was still giving it a go. Hoping to find the thing again. THE THING.

I still do date, sometimes. Because although White Shirt is the one I love and want to be with, I also want a love that doesn't need to wring its hands so much.

Still looking. (Michelle Parise)

I love the TV series Lost, which I reference in the title of this chapter, as well as the vignette called The Constant. My favourite Lost episode of all is also called The Constant. It's focused on the unbreakable love of Penny and Desmond, my favourite story line in the series.

This vignette starts in the basement of the hospital where I get my yearly MRIs and you learn that year after year, no matter what, The Man With the White Shirt comes with me. Strangely enough, he is my constant.

It's such a beautiful little story I'm just going to transcribe the whole thing here for you:

I'm in the basement level of the hospital. The Man With the White Shirt is with me. We're here for my yearly MRI and he's packed an entire bag of supplies, as if we're going away for the weekend.

He's got his laptop, loaded with episodes of the old TV series "Lost" which we've been binging together obsessively. He's got a two-litre bottle of water, two sandwiches and a chocolate bar.

He covers my cold, exposed legs with his jacket.

He tells me I look sexy in my paper gown and even though I roll my eyes and say "Okayyy," we both know I like it. He does a little low growl in my ear and pretends to try and get under the gown, slowly running his fingers along my thigh.

I pretend to push his hands away and we laugh, sweetly, the way joking lovers do. He nuzzles my neck, he tucks my hair behind my ear, he kisses me.

And it is all just as it should be.

Love sits with you in the basement of a hospital at two am.

Love keeps your bare legs warm.

It comes back here with you, year after year, with varying arrangements of snacks, so you never have to do this alone again.

Love waits with you.

It waits.

And if my words aren't romantic enough, please take a moment for Sade, the Patron Saint of Alone: A Love Story, to sing you By Your Side ...

Oh, when you're cold
I'll be there, hold you tight to me
When you're lost
You're alone and you can't get back again
I'll find you, darling, and I'll bring you home

The roaming spirit

This chapter has another little vignette called Wanderlust, which I wrote back in 2014 after reading a book called Wanderlust that my friend Marc Apollonio lent me, and now here he was in 2018, producing Season 3 with me! Isn't that funny? I love little coincidences like that!

It's a good book. At the time, it really helped me understand wanderlust a lot more, even though it is a feeling I don't have at all, ever.

Both sides of the Atlantic have mellowed me out

In the Summer of 2016 I go back to Italy, but this time alone, instead of with two kids in tow like I did in 2012 (or Chapter 10 to you). And that is the first half of this vignette called To the Sea

There are no breezes on the tiny, crowded streets. So I head to the river, stopping at a little stand to buy a rice ball that's as big as a baseball, and a peach that's even bigger.

I climb halfway down a steep set of concrete steps, then sit on a flat section overlooking the water.

This is the one photo I took while sitting there eating a giant arancini and even bigger peach, and before the man arrived and started throwing rocks into The Tiber. (Michelle Parise)

On this trip I remember my old self, the one that loves to get lost in cities. The one who likes to wander, happily on her own. Lost, wander ... more variations on a theme in this chapter!

Later that summer, I head to Nova Scotia with Birdie and my friend Solo Time. It's one of the most relaxing weeks of my life.

When the tide is out, the three of us walk out as far as we can along the muddy ocean floor. (Michelle Parise)

This vignette is called To the Sea and there are a lot of songs about that ole sea we call love. In fact, there are a lot of songs called Sea of Love! Including this one from one of my favourite albums Trouble Will Find Me by one of my favourite bands, The National.

But the unofficial song of this vignette for me is Sea of Love by The Honeydrippers. Yes, I am serious! Please, Robert Plant is brilliantly cool on this song. His voice is buttery gold.

Fun fact: I usually don't love covers, but I LOVE this cover. I remember at the Grade 4 end-of-year party, I got to dance to it with the boy I really liked, Tony 3 (yes, there were no less than four boys named Tony in my class!)

Extra fun fact: I also named my Grade 4 floor hockey team The Honeydrippers. This is the kind of nine-year-old I was. Music music MUSIC!

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.