“Have you been to New York City?” Owen asked Agnes on one of his calls. They were in touch by phone almost every weekend.
“No, I can’t say I have. Have you?” Agnes replied.
“Would you like to spend Christmas there?”
“Are you serious?” Agnes spouted like a teenager.
Owen sensed the disbelief in her voice. Owen hadn’t asked her about her family or their whereabouts. Christmas is a time when families gather to spend the time together. It was presumptuous on his part to spring a surprise at her.
“Yes,” He said. “It would be fun.”
“Have you been there?”
“Stayed there only for a couple of days on my way to Malawi. Always wanted to go back.”
“Well, let me get back to you on that one.” That was turning out to be her standard reply.
Owen was getting used to Agnes’s hesitation. He knew she would agree to go along. Give a day or two, he said to himself.
Sure enough, she called him next weekend and said she would like to go with him to New York.
New York was cold. People normally went to Miami to escape the cold in the north, but Owen was feeling warm with the thought of being with Agnes.
They walked had in hand on fifth avenue, walked in the Saks Fifth Avenue store but didn’t buy anything. They walked over to the Rockefeller Center to see the skaters in the rink. They savored New York bagels for breakfast and the famous Neapolitan pizza for dinner. They had dinner in Little Italy. It had snowed a bit but the city streets were clean except for some snow piled up in the corner intersections.
“Oh my,” Agnes said on their last day. “I don’t remember when I had so much fun. We are behaving like a bunch of kids.”
“There’s nothing wrong with being a kid, if you are having fun.”
There was a blizzard when Agnes returned to Columbus. It was raining in Miami when Owen reached home. He called Agnes as soon as he settled down. She didn’t answer, so he left a message.
When his schedule permitted Owen made trips to Columbus and spent the weekend with Agnes. Almost a year went by as they continued their long distance romance. On one of their weekend calls Agnes invited Owen to meet her parents. They lived in Dayton. Her father Timothy was an Architect and her mother Martha was a librarian. Theirs was a modest split level home.
“So, Agnes tells me that you two met in Africa.” Timothy said as he welcomed Owen.
“Yes, Sir. We were both volunteers for the Peace Corps.”
They talked a bit about Africa, the poverty and what Peace Corps was doing. Agnes had disappeared in the kitchen with her mother. Timothy asked Owen about his practice and life in Miami.
“I’d like to visit that place sometimes,” Timothy said.
“You’ll like it there,” Owen replied.
Owen was at ease conversing with Timothy. He felt much similarity with his father when Tim talked of them being religious and being a regular church goer.
It wasn’t long before Martha came out and invited all to gather at the dinner table. She had prepared a simple dinner. Owen was happy they didn’t pressure him to talk about his plans for the future, meaning whether he was going to propose to Agnes.
Agnes told him next week that her parents really liked him. That Thanksgiving Owen took Agnes to Pauls Valley to meet his parents.
Owen and Agnes got married the next year on the Valentine’s Day. It was a simple wedding. The ceremony in the church was followed by a reception. They settled in Miami.