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In Providence: Tommy’s Pizza

If you passed by a house near Charles Street at around eleven o’clock at night on Saturday, you would have seen a light on.

“We hadn’t seen each other in 10 or 15 years. It’s been that long.”

The two of them were sitting at a small table next to the window eating pizza from Tommy’s. She noticed that his hair had gone mostly gray, and he noticed that she still laughed the same way — with a slight choke that turns into a gleeful howl when you really get her going.

“I laughed like that when I opened the door and that’s what he was standing there with, because we used to get that pizza every Saturday night.”

As a pizza lover, I would have a hard time singling out one pizza place that I would call the best, but as a sentimental guy who grew up eating Tommy’s, it’s always going to be my favorite. That’s why I was excited to hear from a man who wanted to reunite with his ex-girlfriend over cheese and pepperoni.

“We had a good thing going. Back then, I worked Saturday’s, and I’d come home with a pizza. We’d sit and eat and listen to music and we’d just talk. We could talk forever. That’s what I loved about her. We never got bored with each other.”

I ask what split them up.

“You know, one day I got it into my head that we needed to be married, and I got a ring, and I took her out somewhere nice, and I took the ring out, and right away, I knew I was doing the wrong thing. It wasn’t what she wanted. She didn’t want to be married. You know, I– I don’t know if I wanted to be married either. It just seemed like something we had to do, because we’d been together for a long time at that point. She told me to put the ring away. We went home, and I– I moved out a week later. It was that fast.”

When you listen to him, you can tell he’s not sure why things fell down that way. A lot of couples could survive a failed proposal, but they couldn’t, and neither one knows why. I ask her about it, and she says–

“It’s not that I didn’t want to be with him. I loved him like you wouldn’t believe. But I could see he was hurt by me saying ‘No.’ I thought time was up for us. I didn’t fight it. We didn’t fight it.”

Funnily enough, she got married a year later to a guy she didn’t like very much. They got divorced. He dated other women, but he never stayed with any of them for longer than a few months. A decade passed. Then maybe a few years after that. Neither one of them seems all that concerned with time. They just know that a few months ago, he reached out to her on social media to see if she’d be up for having dinner.

“I told him, you want to come over, come over. I’m not seeing anyone now and neither is he. But that doesn’t mean I was thinking about starting something. I’m not romantic like that. That’s why I didn’t like going to that restaurant and getting a ring shoved in my face. I don’t like that kind of thing and he knows that.”

She does like Tommy’s though.

“I hadn’t had it! It had been years since I had that pizza. I saw him standing there, and he’s still so cute. He was always cute, but I thought with all this time– But he’s still cute. He still got me going when he was sitting there looking at me.”

If you walked by a house on Saturday night, you’d hear laughter coming from an open window. If you waited a bit, maybe you’d see two people in the window — a man and a woman — laughing at old jokes and trying not to admit that they were happy to be back sitting across from each other.

And you’d smell some damn good pizza.

The best pizza?

Maybe.

But sometimes the best thing about pizza isn’t where it’s from, it’s who brings it to you.

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