As they were scrolling through their photos on the phone, Valerie suddenly stopped dead, pausing on one particular photo with a look Joel had never seen before on her face.
He was even more bewildered when she quickly looked away, wiping tears from her eyes. Joel had no idea what had come over his girlfriend, and he certainly didn’t know how this one photo would change Valerie’s life.
A Trip To The Big Apple
Joel and Valerie had been seeing one another for two years before they decided to travel to New York together. Both of them had grown up in Minnesota, and they were excited to leave their small hometown and experience the hustle and bustle of the Big Apple.
The couple had a blast on their trip. They visited the Statue of Liberty, spent a day in Central Park, and went shopping in Times Square. But the part Valerie loved the most was looking for treasure in the old record stores.
After one long day of sightseeing and shopping, the pair were heading back to their hotel when Valerie decided to make a confession. Feeling a sad stab of nostalgia, she opened up to Joel about her love for old record stores.
As they walked, Valerie told him that she had always adored music stores because they reminded her of when she was a little girl. But she didn’t tell him why.
As Valerie spoke, Joel couldn’t help but notice she had a sad look on her face. Her brows were furrowed, her voice grew shaky, and it looked like she was even fighting back tears.
Joel knew Valerie well enough that he decided not to press her about it. But it wouldn’t be long until he discovered the reason for Valerie’s tears.
Going Through The Photos
Back in their hotel room, the couple decided to look at all the stunning pictures they had taken that day. Valerie had a great eye and a natural knack for finding the most beautiful angles of buildings and landmarks – which meant they had dozens of Instagram-worthy pictures.
As she scrolled through, one photo caught her eye. But when she zoomed in to take a closer look, her face became stricken.
It Made Her Cry
Joel had no idea why Valerie suddenly had tears rolling down her face. He couldn’t fathom why a simple picture he’d taken of her posing in a record store had elicited such a strong reaction.
Bewildered, he tried to comfort her. He gently asked her what the matter was, but Valerie couldn’t even speak.
In The Background
Once Valerie had pulled herself together, she tried to make her boyfriend understand why the photo had such an impact on her. Every time she tried, though, she could only stammer through tears.
She pointed at the background, at the record that was behind her in the photo. But Joel just wasn’t getting it.
In the photo he’d taken just a few hours earlier, Valerie was posing inside the record store. Behind her was a black-and-white album cover, but it didn’t mean much to Joel.
Why had this album – Nirvana’s ‘Bleach’ – gotten such a surprising response from Valerie? When Joel eventually managed to calm her down, he finally got the answer.
Valerie explained that the album reminded her of a period in her life where her father was still in the picture.
When she was 10 years old, her dad would take her to record stores all the time. His favorite album was Nirvana’s ‘Bleach.’ But there was a lot more to the story than that.
Time She’d Never Get Back
Valerie never spoke about her dad to Joel, but now she was pouring her heart out. She told him that she hadn’t seen or spoken to her dad for years.
They had a terrible fight and she had cut off all contact with him. But now, she was upset that he wasn’t in her life. Joel saw just how upset the situation was making her, so he decided to come 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 She Was Confused
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?
Looking For The Record
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.