In Providence: A new night

If you’re the type that goes out on New Year’s Eve, you’ve probably noticed the rotating assortment of events that have occupied the city as it moves into a new chapter. It seems like Providence is just like the rest of us when it comes to the biggest party night of the year–

“Nobody knows how to celebrate.”

Every year, she’s tried to make the most out of New Year’s Eve, and every year, something goes wrong.

“Oh, I’ve tried it all. I used to have a house. When I was younger, in my 20s, I had a place that you could walk to from downtown, and when I moved there, it was right before Christmas, and I said to my girlfriend I was living with at the time, ‘We’re going to have a biga** New Year’s Eve party. We’re going to start at the house. We’re going to walk to the clubs. Ba-dee ba-dah, the whole nine yards.”

That first year was … not a success.

“Everybody got drunk at the house, and I had people passed out in the hallways. On my bed. On my girlfriend’s bed. Everybody went too hard too fast. It was nine o’clock and I’m sitting on the couch watching the ball drop by myself. What was I going to do? Go to the club by myself? I don’t think so. I made breakfast for everybody the next day, even the two guys in my bed. They’re still together, those two.”

After that, a curse seemed to set in. The same way Mary Richards on “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” was known for throwing a disastrous party, she became known as the woman who could not get New Year’s Eve right.

“I had a boyfriend after that first year, and he was always messing s*** up, because he was a mean drunk, and he didn’t drink too much, but he’d get drunk on New Year’s Eve, and he’d either sulk and put me in a bad mood, or he’d cause a scene and get everybody pissed off. That went on for years. Too many years.”

By that time, she was living in a smaller place by herself near Broad Street, and she found herself becoming a New Year’s Eve cynic.

“Never went out. I was the one you see saying ‘I’m staying home. I’m going to bed early. Asleep by eleven.’ If you’re not going to have any fun, you skip it. That’s what you do. Those were– I wasn’t myself during those years. I hated my job. I wasn’t talking to my mother, which I regret now, because we’re both older and I wish we had that time back, you know? I was done with that guy I was dating before, but the ones after him were just as bad. And a lot of them were worse. One year was as bad as the other, and ba-dee ba-dah, I never saw what there was to get excited about, and usually I was right.”

Last year, a friend called her the morning of New Year’s Eve. She was at her office, and she ignored the call, but the friend kept calling.

“She wanted me to go out with her that night. No plans; just see what’s going on downtown and at some of the bars and this and that. I thought, ‘No way. No way am I going around like I’m still one of these kids.’ I go home and I go to bed. That’s what I texted her. Every year, I go home and I go to bed. But she wouldn’t take ‘No’ for an answer.”

They came to an agreement. She would join her friend for two drinks at one bar, and that would be it. She’d still be home by eleven, and asleep by the time everyone else was sharing a kiss or knocking back another spirit.

“I have my first drink and who sits next to me? The best looking guy in the bar. I just about died. Then he starts talking to me. I tell myself I’m not going to have more than the two drinks I said I was going to, because I like to watch my drinking, and he tells me he’s sober and he doesn’t drink anyway. He’s drinking soda. Do you believe that? He only came out because his brother and some of his friends were out. My girlfriend is on the other side of me, elbowing me, because she sees us getting along, but I know how my New Year’s go, and I know it’s going to end bad.”

Nevertheless, she stayed past her two drinks, joining him for a soda. The two of them kept talking, and before she knew it, everyone in the bar was shouting that it was a minute to midnight.

“The guy’s looking at me like– We gonna do this or what? My girlfriend takes me in the bathroom and tells me if I don’t kiss this guy, she’s going to lose her s***. She’s already making out with some guy that looks like Lou Albano. I’m dying laughing, and I can’t believe it, but I’m having a good time. Next thing I know, it’s midnight and I grab the guy and give him a kiss right on the lips. My first kiss with him and it’s on New Year’s Eve.”

That means they’re coming up on their one-year anniversary. It’s not easy managing the first year of a relationship during a pandemic, and it wasn’t smooth sailing for them.

“It’s like everybody else. We had a tough year. He lost his father. My mother got sick and I almost lost her. But you got to look around and see who you have in your corner. I never had somebody in my corner like he’s in my corner now, and that feels good. I know not everybody has that, and I feel grateful. You know, I’m out of work right now, money’s tight, ba-dee ba-dah, but I’m trying to think about what I got going for me. I got a new year coming up. I never thought I’d meet a guy the way I did, but I let somebody talk me into doing something I gave up on. That’s what you go to do. Go out. Not now, because we can’t, right? But once we can, you gotta get out there. Not just so you can meet somebody, but because it feels good. It makes you feel like you’re still in it to win it. It’s been a bad year, but all those years I was keeping to myself? Those years were worse for me. I hate to say it, but they were. I don’t know what I would have done this year if I was like I was years ago. Where my head was at. I didn’t have any hope things would get better then. Now I know they will. They will.”

If you text her on December 31 and ask her to go out, she’ll tell you she can’t. Not because she’s a New Year’s Eve cynic, but because we’re all going to have to figure out how to ring in 2021 with a little less fanfare this year.

“My boyfriend has to work, believe it or not, so yes, I will be alone, but I’m going to stay up and say good-bye to this ****** year, and I’ll have some champagne and waffles, because that’s what I want to eat. I’m relieved I don’t have to think about doing too much. I put too much pressure on myself all those times I tried to make a big deal out of it. I’m here and I’m alive and I’m healthy when a lot of people aren’t. That’s all I need to celebrate.”

And a brand new year.

“That too.”

Yeah, that too.