Back in 2009, my life was entirely changed by this woman. Thats me, on the right. Not my best shot, I agree. Also, that would be my Hot-Topic-Employee attire, not a complete departure from my usual style, but I digress. The girl on the left is Vero. We met at the end of 2009. She was hired to replace one of the assistant managers that quit to go live in Miami. I remember her first day clearly. It was a Black Friday, and I had been assigned to be seasonal keyholder, starting that week. She came in at about 9am looking all nervous. We immediately clicked. I showed her the ropes on how to work around the documents and cash register. In return, she stole my heart. A week later, she was calling me ‘wife’. Three months later, she was moving in with us. For all intents and purposes, it was a torrid romance–without the sex.
We shared some things: our love for Harry Potter (which brought about a huge weekend-long marathon of all 7 parts that were out by then), our love of food, Caprica, art, smoking … We spent countless hours just shooting the shit in our living room: me, pouring my heart out over a cigarette and a Coke; she, drawing her soul into countless lines and dots on paper, while a watery Coke and a half-burnt cigarette waited on the sidelines. I finally got in her what I had yearned for in so long: a close female friend, someone I could go places with and make fun of stuff and just be generally silly together. We did all that stuff: tandem supermarket visits (including some light thievery), visiting Walmart to drool at the bikes (and then unhooking them and riding them around the aisles), brunch (and mimosas!), weird dates (hers) in which I was the third wheel (and surreptitious chaperone), the Kitty Kitty Dinosaur podcast … Tons of things I never thought I’d be able to do with a girl friend. But she came into my life, and we did.
We shared an unparalleled love for coffee. I used to brew coffee every morning, just for her: a tall take-along mug she would finish off throughout the day (well, in the first few hours, actually). I didn’t share her obsession with sunflower seeds, carrots, or broccoli. We saw eye-to-eye in our love for queso del país and bacon (and Colombian sausage, oh! those were the days…)
We also shared our love for Bob. And the three of us became quite inseparable. Trips to the beach became silly photoshoots, long drives to Mayaguez became a shortbus of strays on the way back … and through all the thick and thin of it, we stuck together. In spite of my (back then) unmanaged mood swings (later diagnosed as PMDD), in spite of her habitually short temper and tolerance (which she stuck out and worked with just for me) … we remained friends and living partners.
She also did wonderful things for our home. Our walls became the perfect canvas for her to bring life to some of the things she had in mind: a blue-haired cry for help in her room, a redhead dreamer in our kitchen, and an unfinished tree-sprite in our hallway. Constant reminders of how much she suffused herself into our lives.
Then an odd thing happened. Vero fell in love. She had been looking for it in all the wrong places, suffering all unwanted advances, rebuffing guys that would’ve been good to her, wallowing in her own misery when the ones she did go after treated her like shit … And through it all, the one thing she thought she’d never get kept her spirits up, I’m sure, at least a little. And then the coin dropped …
…and Julius came into her life. And it was inevitable: she moved away.
I’m glad for her, for them. She’s happy, they both seem to be. Parachuting, living in the woods, getting a corgi … all the awesome stuff she wanted to do for a long time (and some extra awesome stuff she probably had NO idea she wanted to do) … all of it came into fruition. And she looks happy. She has looked this happy ever since they finally got together. It’s good to see.
From a slavery to retail (ended mainly by an unjustified firing from Hot Topic, complete with an acrid denouement of a lot of the relationships that had been established due to her work) to an absolute freedom and rein over her own life …. It’s been a hell of an era for -veedot.
This is the last picture I took of her. She had come back after practically having moved to Boston, just to celebrate my 34th birthday. And she baked one of her delicious beer-can chickens for me. She was always that thoughtful.
They say hindsight is 20/20. This is true. The more you learn with the hard knocks of life, the more you can contextualize your past. For example: I’ve learned in the last few months about the many people I came to love, but never came around to telling them because I myself hadn’t noticed. It’s been oddly liberating, finally understanding where my feelings stem from and how they work.
And I’ve also redefined my way of loving. Loving not to do with sexuality as much as knowing that you’d do whatever in your power to make that person happy. In this sense, not many people remain in the list of “loved ones”. But Vero is one of them. What I have come to define as “people I’ve fallen in love with”. She may not know, and it’s okay. She already gave me what I never thought to ask of anyone: her devotion, her friendship, her love… and her happiness.
Those were fun times, and now we’re having our fun times apart. But to adapt what Rick Blaine once said to Ilsa Lund: “We’ll always have the supermarket.” And that is that.
Still… I miss you, Vero. And I hope you’re always as happy as you are now.