Within one hour of landing in New York City and searching for lunch on the Upper West Side in December of 2015, we walked in to Jacob’s Pickles and were seated near a young couple at the same longish table in the front window. (It’s not uncommon to share tables in the city’s space-challenged restaurants, so we thought nothing of it.)
But within seconds, we heard soft giggles coming from the female at the end of the table. She was teary-eyed. We smiled. Said hello. And she said, “You’ll have to excuse us. But we just got engaged.” And then we caught on. This young man had just proposed. Right there in Jacob’s Pickles. His newly designated fiancé added quickly, “I’m just so excited.” And she genuinely was.
She called her mom. She called her sister. We tried not to look, but there we were –seated next to the blushing, hugging, kissing, cooing, obviously-in-love couple. And WE were getting teary-eyed. True love and admiration and spontaneous joy were right beside us at our shared table.
We offered to take their picture with our phone and send it to them, when they, of course, said, “Oh, would you please take another with our phones? Then we can send them to our relatives.” More giggles. More oohs and ahhhs. And we were grateful for the chance to share in this private joy.
Then it was their turn to share. They had met in Guatemala while working on a philanthropic endeavor, and they’d fed the fires of a long distance romance ever since. She was a grad student at Fordham in NYC; he was a chef of a restaurant in Berlin, Germany. An international romance between two people who, to this day, remain nameless to us.
They had no idea right then when a wedding would take place or where they would live happily after or how they would make all this love work. But, truly infatuated, they were finding joy in the moment.
We watched them toast each other with champagne, compliments of the restaurant. We ate our lunches. And we said good-bye.
But that one tiny, meaningful event became the romantic kick-off for our entire stay in New York. Nothing else came even close. It was a serendipitous one love scene at a busy lunchtime restaurant in the Big Apple.