Young love and a new year
End of the year. A good year, says Terrence Williams II. But still:
He has questions.
It's human nature. The door closes on 2014 — or slams shut, really — and you try to look ahead, but you peek over your shoulder at what's behind.
Williams, 24, has a good job. He's making a difference, and he loves the kids, but is it a career?
He lives in Ypsilanti in his parents' house. It's a nice house in a newer neighborhood and he loves his family, but he's young, and wouldn't downtown Detroit be someplace special?
And then there's the girlfriend. Two-plus years they've been a couple, since the moment she took his arm and they walked into the annual gala at his church. But how long can you just be somebody's boyfriend?
Across 364 days, you get some answers in your life. On the 365th, you wonder.
Living a good life
Not that Williams is dissatisfied. He's blessed, and he knows it. Handsome, polite, thoughtful, athletic, appreciated. The closest things he has to problems are other people's dreams.
The job, for instance. Not everyone would want to work overnights in a Washtenaw County Children's Services juvenile center, being the reassuring presence for kids who might otherwise damage themselves. But isn't that a fine way to spend a shift, helping troubled teenagers?
He's also a youth minister at Abundant Life Ministries in Ypsilanti. That's one of the things he has in common with his girlfriend, 26-year-old Catie Keomahavong of Warren: she's a youth minister, too, at Evangel Christian Churches in Roseville.
They met at Macomb Community College, where he was playing basketball, and became study buddies. He moved on to a small Christian school in Grand Rapids and they lost touch, but one night she and a friend thought they saw him in a restaurant, so they called.
That was the spark. Now they're both finishing degrees — he in exercise science at Eastern Michigan, with an eye toward corporate fitness, and she in marketing at Walsh College.
Two cultures meet
Keomahavong — it's pronounced Gay-oh-ma-have-ong — comes to his summer softball games and makes goodie bags for the guys on his team. He has learned to appreciate the spices at her cousin's restaurant in Midtown Detroit, Go! Sy Thai.
But it's not like they're two snap peas in a pod. Williams is black, with deep roots here, while she's first generation by way of Laos, the child of a Hmong mother and Lao dad.
Also, while he's typically an online reader, she's devoted to the print editions of The Detroit News.
That's why he asked us to help him with a quandary — the one about what comes next with the woman he loves.
He's picking her up at her parents' house on this New Year's Eve morning and taking her to breakfast. He's handing her the newspaper across the table.
When she gets to this part, she'll read one more question.
Terrence wants to know, Catie, with thoughts of 2015 and all the years after that …
Will you marry him?