In Providence: Every Kiss You’ve Got

“He’s what I need to give up. Just him. Him and I’m good.”

She tells me that for the New Year, she’s changing the locks and deleting his number from her phone. The house they shared on Gano Street is a little quieter than it used to be since he got an apartment in Warwick.

“In Warwick. He’s making a point. Like he’s saying he’ll never come by again when he knows he will. He knows he will. Let him move wherever he wants, but he’s going to end up right back outside that window with that puppy dog face trying to move back in.”

He’s already been kicked out four times over the five years they’ve lived together. He’s not a bad guy — even she’ll tell you that. She’s asked him to come back just as often as he’s asked, and there’s nothing sinister about their on-again-off-again status. No abuse of any kind — just two people who drive each other nuts the same way most people do — with bad habits and the inability to tell the truth even when the situation would be better off without it.

“For some reason, whenever I tell him — I know my mother should mind her own business, he still wants to talk about it. When I tell him I’m going to drink less, he’s got to remind me that I said it. If I’m on a diet, forget it. I do the same with him. I’m not an innocent. We just go at each other and then we go at each other for real — in a good way — but we’re both getting older and it’s got to stop. Before him the guy I was with never said a peep, but when he was mad at you, you thought you were getting put through a wall. I left him, I got help, and then I thought with this one — A good guy. I found a good guy. I did, too. But you can be a good guy and still be wrong for somebody. You can be the best guy in the world and that doesn’t mean the first girl you see is going to be the love of your life. I’ll tell you — I think it’s more me than him most days. There are parts of me that aren’t right for him and a lot of him would be right for anybody. That’s what breaks me up about it, but that’s why I said, ‘I’m going to be by myself,’ and I did the house up so it was just for me. The last time he came back, he didn’t fit anymore, and he knew it. He just knew. I think that broke his heart more than anything. To see how I’d been without him. The whole place all clean and all about me. That really did a number on him.”

She’s got a lot of other stuff she’d love to quit this year — not just him and the drinking. She wants to get her nails done more often, take better care of herself, give up cigarettes (for good this time), and stop with the three extra-large coffees a day.

“When he comes around, I want to say ‘I can’t do it. I can’t do it again,’ and I want to mean it this time. He’s not trying to change my mind. He doesn’t know where to go without me, and that’s how it is for me. That’s why I told him, ‘If you want the house, you can have it. He likes Gano Street. I wanted to stay close to my mother. She’s right over the bridge. But he went off to Warwick to prove a point. I don’t know what the hell he’s doing there, but I hope he’s having fun. Hasn’t been much fun here without him, but maybe I’m too old for fun now anyway. Can’t all be fun and games these days.”

Her first New Year’s Eve without him is going to be spent with a large pizza, a bottle of club soda and a few friends.

“It’ll be a little sad. We tried this once before, but we both broke down and got together, and we were lying in bed telling each other that year was going to be different, and then by February he’s driving me nuts again. I can’t let that happen again. Gotta be stronger than that. I’ll have some people over for when the ball drops and then I’m going to bed.”

She invites me to stop by and have some pizza with her. I say I just might.

“You don’t have anybody to kiss at midnight? That’s too bad. I got 10 years on you. I don’t need that kiss, but you look like you still got a few kisses left in you. Don’t throw ‘em away. Use every kiss you’ve got.”