Cafeteria becomes reunion location for love story 14 years in the making


Carly Wilson

After reuniting, class of 2009 alumni and now couple, Erica Mruz and Carlos Ruano, share a quiet moment together to soak up the emotional day of seeing each other in person for the first time in 14 years.

Meeting for the first time in 14 years, 2009 alumni Erica Mruz and Carlos Ruano arranged their reunion to take place where they first metthe school’s cafeteria.  The two met their senior year and became friends during their shared study hall. Ruano, originally from Guatemala, had to return to his home country before graduation, forcing the two to say their goodbyes sooner than they expected.

“When she [a different close friend] told me that he was leaving we [she and Ruano] hugged for what seemed like forever,” Mruz said. “I never thought I’d see him again.”

About 10 years later in late 2019, Ruano decided to finally reach out again due to the growing COVID-19 pandemic to make sure Mruz was doing okay. At the time, Mruz was going through some personal changes, leaving her in a bit of a fragile state, causing her to wonder if their inevitable relationship would actually last.

“He reached out to me on Instagram in 2019,” Mruz said. “At that time, I wasn’t happy with what I was doing so at that point I decided to go back to school. He was there the whole time but I was dealing with a lot so I just didn’t see him, which looking back now hurts a lot.”

Finally, after dating online for a few months, Ruano decided it was time he made his way back to Omaha to visit Mruz. Although they’re together in Omaha now, the reunion didn’t come without push back.

“I told him ‘If you don’t see any future in us, don’t come visit me;’ I was really blunt about it,” Mruz said. Her counterpart responded to her by telling her he wanted it for the rest of his life.

Even back in high school when they were just friends, the pair’s connection ran deep.

“One of my biggest memories was mostly the time being in this cafeteria,” Ruano said. “Just paying attention to everything she did, knowing that I just wanted her to keep doing what she wanted do.”

Mruz picks up on this memory, remembering their quiet, yet quality time back in study hall.

“He just watched me do homework because he wanted to be present but didn’t want to be distracting,” Mruz said.

Mruz shares that even before Ruano reached out to her in 2019, there was a few years where the two were both living in Omaha at the same time. The strange thing is, they never saw or heard anything from each other over the course of those few years.

“The fact that we didn’t run into each other during that time period, that means something,” Mruz said. “Omaha is not that big.”

The couple walked towards the school, already wiping tears away before even walking into the building. Although overwhelmed with emotion, the two were incredibly grateful for the opportunity to come back for this special reunion.

Stopping at the last place they saw each other 14 years ago, Erica Mruz and Carlos Ruano, class of 2009, share an emotion filled embrace. (Carly Wilson)

The first place they went was a specific spot outside of the cafeteria. They took their time to share a heartwarming embrace while letting go of some more tears. Even not knowing the significance of the spot, the moment was extremely touching. Once sitting down with them, the story behind that spot was shared.

“He was actually dating a friend of ours at the time,” Mruz said. “She told me he was leaving to move back to Guatemala and that’s where that spot was that we just went to. It was the last place we saw each other almost 14 years ago.”

After finally getting their reunion, the couple plans to keep their relationship going long-term. Ruano will make the move from NYC back to Omaha in less than a year but until then they will keep going long distance.