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Two Houston Natives Marry After Several Years of Long Distance

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Carlos Paz Jr. and Abigail Diaz had a rule: to see each other at least once a month in their mostly long-distance relationship.

One of those visits — a trip to Chicago in 2018 — would test their future.

In the Uber from the airport to their hotel, they talked about where things stood. Ms. Diaz, 37, was under the impression that Mr. Paz, also 37, would move back to Houston, where they’re both from and where she was living at the time.

“I couldn’t hold it in any longer,” said Ms. Diaz, who initiated the conversation. “I had strong feelings that he had misled me.” Mr. Paz wanted to stay in Washington for work, but he was scared to share that with Ms. Diaz.

“I was worried,” he said. “If I share this information we’ll have to make another decision about staying together.”

At Gino’s East, a pizza restaurant, Ms. Diaz became so upset that she left before the food arrived.

In that moment, Mr. Paz, the chief of staff for Representative Jimmy Gomez, a Democrat from California, said he imagined his life in “two realities”: one where he would go after her and the other where he would accept the end of their relationship.

“Abby just wanted to know that I was in,” Mr. Paz said. He knew Ms. Diaz needed him to “fight for her,” he said. He quickly paid for their meal, and ran after her.

Mr. Paz and Ms. Diaz had both grown up in Houston and had mutual friends, but it wasn’t until September 2015 that they met at a party there. It would then be almost another year — in August 2016 — before they could really connect at a birthday party for a mutual friend in Brooklyn.

They sat together at the dinner, talking throughout the evening. Mr. Paz had just moved from Houston to Washington in March 2016 and was the communications director for Representative Gene Green, Democrat from Texas, and coming out of a position on Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign. Ms. Diaz worked in liquor sales and was also curating a dinner pop-up series in Houston.

They took a photo together to commemorate the night. “She said we looked like the Mexican Ken and Barbie,” said Mr. Paz, who agreed but wanted to take things slow.

“Abby struck me as someone who was very interesting and attractive, of course,” he said. “If it was going to work, it should start as friends.”

For Ms. Diaz, the friendly vibe of their encounter left her feeling unsure. He was different from most of the men she had dated. He wore suits and seemed more “clean-cut,” she said.

[Click here to binge read this week’s featured couples.]

In past dating experiences, her “outspoken” personality, she said, would cause friction. Ms. Diaz said a “male focused” Mexican culture and growing up in a southern state, “women like me don’t tend to always get the better end of the deal.” In Mr. Paz, she found her “equal.”

The next day, he planned to visit a friend and colleague at Hillary Clinton’s headquarters in Brooklyn. Despite her hesitation, and also because she was curious to see the campaign office, Ms. Diaz offered to meet Mr. Paz there. Minutes of waiting became an hour as Mr. Paz’s friend promised to send someone to the lobby to get her, but that person never materialized. When Mr. Paz finally came downstairs, he was “nervous,” he said, about his timing and apologetic.

While Ms. Diaz was “annoyed,” it was worth the wait, she said. The date proceeded with a stroll through Brooklyn Heights, and an intimate chat over a burger and fries in Dumbo. Both were from humble beginnings in Houston, and their parents immigrated from the same state, Tamaulipas, Mexico, in the late 1970s.

Mr. Paz has a bachelor’s degree in political science from George Washington University. He took his first campaign job with Chris Brown, who would become city controller in Houston in 2016. He went on to work for various members of Congress in communications and staffer roles, including to Nancy Pelosi, the former House speaker, and Chuck Schumer, the Senate majority leader.

Mr. Paz, who comes from a close-knit Catholic family, learned the art of politics by watching his parents host large family gatherings at their home. He said, “In Abby, I found someone who likes to host, and someone who likes to create that sense of family with friends.”

Ms. Diaz was raised in a Christian household with her three siblings by a mother who taught her the value of independence. Ms. Diaz received a bachelor’s degree from the Art Institute of Houston, and would continue to dabble in sales, entrepreneurship and creative pursuits. She is currently a customer adviser at Amazon Business.

The couple moved in together in Washington in 2020, and were engaged in January 2022.

They married Sept. 1 at the Live Oak Friends Meeting House in Houston, with around 40 close friends and family attending. The ceremony was officiated by Christina A. Bryan, a federal magistrate judge for the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas.

The couple plan to have a larger celebration in Mexico City on Oct. 6, a nod to their roots and their taste for city life. “Our parents left to have better lives in America,” Mr. Paz said. “And now we get to go back to the homeland and show them it was worth it.”

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