Maria hails from Puerto Rico. She was raised on the tropical island, and her original home was always something that held a deep meaning to her. As an older child (at the age of 12), her family came to the States, and they settled in California.
She adjusted well to her new life in America. It was a whole new world, and it was all very exciting and intriguing to the young girl. Maria's life was full of both cultures and both languages. She embraced all that was American, while still following her Puerto Rican traditions.
She was a good student. She saw and understood the unlimited potential she had if she applied herself in school. She worked diligently in all of her classes, but she especially excelled in linguistics.
She went off to Pepperdine University for her degree in journalism. She was the first college graduate in her family; she did her best to help support her other family members.
As a young professional, She attended a writing conference where she met a wonderful woman named Adelaide. The two hit it off immediately. They spent a fair amount of time together during the conference, and a friendship had been forged.
The two remained in contact with each other for quite a while.
One day, Adelaide informed Maria of a wonderful job opportunity with her. The only problem was that the position was in Philadelphia. It was a difficult decision. It was the job opportunity of a lifetime, but it would mean a separation from her family. Maria brought her dilemma to the family, to see what they thought. Her parents - and everyone around her - were all very supportive of the job.
So with some excitement, along with trepidation, Maria moved to the East Coast.
Out of kindness, Adelaide offered her home to Maria. The two lived and worked together. Maria loved her new job. She and Adelaide were great roommates, and everything seemed to be perfect.
After months of living together, Adelaide confessed her love to Maria. Maria being the unflappable woman that she is, admitted that she had deep feelings for Adelaide as well. They were slightly backwards from most couples as they started living together before they started "dating."
The relationship went well. Considering it was the early 1980s, though, there was fear of being found out. Maria seamlessly transitioned to working for the Hispanic sister publication of Adelaide's.
Their life played out beautifully, until Adelaide got leukemia. She died thirteen years prior to when Maria's story begins.
Her story begins as she drives in the city, with the sky turning an ominous shade of black, hinting at the storm to come.
Where we meet Maria is indeed a storm. It is a time of change - and even some upheaval. She leaves the job she's had for the last twenty five years. Not only is it a career change, in a way, she severs a tie to Addie.
She creates new friendships, and reconnects with old friends. Through all of which, she meets Stephania.
Stephania is unlike anyone Maria has ever met. She is young, pushy, outspoken, unique, and full of life. At first, she grates on the quiet, reserved Maria. Once Maria opens herself up to Steph, even in the smallest way, she wiggles her way right into Maria's heart.
The idea of dating someone - especially someone so much younger - is frightening to Maria. She never opened her heart up to anyone since Adelaide died. She was content in her solitude, and she felt obligated to Addie.
As things progress, Maria is excited, fearful, and terribly confused. She enjoys Stephania's company, and all that she has to offer. But she is afraid of the depth of the relationship. She hasn't felt anything like that in a very long time. And she is puzzled. She doesn't know if it's alright to fall in love with someone else. Was she being unfaithful to Adelaide? Would Adelaide approve? What was she supposed to do?
The beauty in all this is that Stephania gives Maria all the time and space she needs. When they take their first trip together to New York, Maria is a bag of nerves. Steph does her best to try to calm and distract Maria. When she comes out of the bathroom in a sensuous night gown, though, it proves to be too much. In a beautiful, tender moment, Stephania calls Maria over to her. Rather than seducing her, she simply embraces her, and lets Maria weep. That moment was the solidifying and defining moment in their relationship.
For all of her sensitivities, Maria has a spicy side to herself as well. Whether it's chewing out telemarketers, or making sexual innuendos, Maria is always very sharp witted.
Maria brings Stephania out to California to meet her family. This was the most frightening and exhilarating thing she had done in years. Thankfully, her family loves Steph, and Steph loves them. It was perfect.
Then the clouds darkened. Just when Maria thought the storm was over, it was only just beginning. These clouds bring more turmoil. Marisol, Maria's sister, calls her with some devastating news. According to Marisol, no one in the family approves of Stephania. To make matters worse, despite years of seemingly accepting Maria as a lesbian, they actually don't. In fact, their mother does not want to see Maria until she breaks up with Steph and turns away from homosexuality, Marisol says. This is the storm's center, the EF5 tornado in the middle of it all.
Her entire world comes crashing down while she and Steph are in California again, for Stephania to shoot with Curve Magazine. Maria receives a message from Marisol. Their mother had died. Maria tries desperately to hide her tears from Steph before she goes off to shoot. When she comes back, though, Maria is weeping, and tells her the bad news.
At a time when emotions are at an all time high, and tension is strong, Maria discovers something amazing. Her family did love and accept her all along. Marisol had lied to Maria. She also lied to everyone else in the family. Marisol was the one who could not accept Maria as a lesbian, not their mother. Though Maria's heart was broken that her mother had died, she now had the most beautiful family reunion as well.
Their uncle Guillermo asked Maria to call Marisol to come see him. When Maria does, it becomes a confrontation.
Seeing Marisol get right in Maria's face, Stephania ran outside. She immediately defended Maria, and called Marisol out on her lies. She grabs Marisol by the hair, and says all the things that needed to be said. She defends Maria, their family, and even God. Once again, despite Marisol's distance, Maria's family is connected.
Family had always been important to Maria. She always loved her friends and family deeply. Personal connections were her top priority. Through the highs and lows of life, the trials and triumphs of every day, Maria remained strong and faithful to everyone in her life. She is a strong soul, an incredible woman who gave so much to everyone who knew her. She had love, she had fire, she had compassion, she had fear, she had humor, she had severity inside her. She was a woman of the greatest kind.
Favorite quote from Maria: “There was never anything wrong with you. You are perfect just the way God made you.”