They sat together as they scrolled through countless amounts of photos on the phone. It was when they scrolled onto one particular photo that Valerie stopped dead with a look on her face that Joel had never seen before.
He was confused and bewildered as he watched her look away and brush tears from her cheeks. Joel had no clue what was going on with his girlfriend and he was completely unaware how this photo was about to change Valerie’s entire life.
Joel and Valerie had spent two years in a relationship before they made the decision to travel to New York together. They had both grown up in Minnesota and neither of them could wait to explore the Big Apple. They were so used to their small town, they were ready for a change.
They had the best time visiting the Statue of Liberty, Central Park and Time Square. But Valerie’s favorite part was when they were searching for treasure in in an old record store.
It was after a long day of exploring, when they were heading back to their hotel, that Valerie made her confession. She felt a sad sense of nostalgia and decided to open up to Joel about her love for old record stores.
She explained how these stores reminded her of when she was a little girl. But she didn’t tell him why she felt that way.
She spoke in a shaky voice, her eyebrows furrowed and her eyes teary. Joel instantly noticed how sad she looked as she spoke about.
He knew not to press her about it. But soon, he would discover why Valerie had tears in her eyes.
When they got back to their hotel room, they sat together and decided to go through the countless photos they took that day. Valerie was an amazing photographer, if she wanted, she would be able to make a career out of it. They had a lot of Instagram-worthy pictures to look through.
But while they were going through the photos, one caught her attention more than the rest of them. She stopped on it and zoomed in to take a closer look, that was when her face became stricken.
Joel’s eyes drifted from the photo and to Valerie. He had no idea why she was crying, the photo seemed ordinary to him. It was just a photo he had taken of her in the record store.
He tried his best to comfort her, despite his confusion. He asked her what was wrong, but she could hardly get a word out.
She pulled herself together to the best of her abilities and tried to make him understand her reaction. But she struggled to get a word out as she stammered through her tears.
She pointed at the record that was right behind her in the photo. Joel didn’t get it.
Behind her in the photo was a black-and-white album cover. But Joel didn’t see much meaning behind any of it.
It was Nirvana’s ‘Bleach’ album, but why was she reacting this way? It took some time but once Joel was able to calm Valerie down, he got the answer.
Valerie said that the album reminded her of when her dad was still around.
When she was 10-years-old, he always took her to the record store. His favorite album was ‘Bleach’ by Nirvana and it meant a lot to her. But there was more to the story.
She had never mentioned her dad to Joel before, but now was a good time to let it all out. She told him that she hadn’t spoken to her dad in years.
They had a terrible fight and she vowed to never speak to him or see him ever again. But she was missing him. He saw how upset it made Valerie to talk about it, so he came up with a plan.
Joel asked Valerie if she wanted to go out onto the streets of New York once more to take her mind off things, but she didn’t want to leave the hotel.
Joel assured her that what he wanted to do wouldn’t take long and she relented. When she saw that they were walking back to the record store, she grew suspicious.
Now it was Valerie’s turn to feel confused. Why had Joel brought her back to the record store when seeing that album cover had upset her so much in the first place?
Joel told her to just trust him, and she did. But what did he have in mind to make her feel better?
Joel began to look for the record that he’d accidentally captured in the photo of Valerie. He found the exact place where it had been, but then his heart sank.
It wasn’t there anymore – it must have been sold. But the record had been such a huge part of his plan. What was he going to do now?
Joel approached the man behind the counter and asked about the record. According to the record store employee, he was out of luck… a man had just bought it!
He told Joel that, if he was quick, he might be able to catch him. Joel and Valerie raced out of the record store and onto the bust streets of New York.
Just up ahead, Joel spotted a man with a big bag that looked like it might be from the record store.
Joel caught up to him and tapped him on the shoulder, but he was the wrong man. Devastated, Joel sat down, thinking of where to turn next. But just then, something caught his eye.