MI AMOR Maria Cook

I was living in Colorado at the time, in a small beautiful city known as Colorado Springs just an hour south of Denver. I was fourteen years old just getting out of junior high school and transitioning on to the next big chapter of my life. Cheyenne Mountain High School. Many people either have an incredible time playing sports or going out with friends, partying and drinking or the complete opposite. For me, it was a dreaded experience I hoped to get over quickly with my closest friends by my side. Everyone had money and dressed fancy with Gucci purses. But for 14 year old me, I would throw on an oversized hoodie and wear my black Vans sneakers. This school belongs to District 12, the most expensive and richest district there is. Enormous mansions with multiple garages and nice cars surround the area. I wasn’t old enough to drive yet and people would pass by me in Mercedes Benz or Camaros on ten degree snowy days.

Me at 14 years old, and an example of a mansion surrounding the area

Except for one person. A 17 year old, handsome junior from Colombia named Fabio. He would give me a ride home every day in his dark green Toyota Tacoma, even though it was just five minutes away. My crush on him grew bigger every day, but my chances of being with him became slim because before I finished my freshman year, I had moved 3,000 miles away to Peru.

Fabio's truck
Fabio and Macy

I had moved to Peru in the summer of 2013 and resumed my high school studies. I met many new friends and lived with my family. A year later in 2014, Fabio graduated from high school and shortly after moved to Germany. We were even further apart now than ever. We occasionally talked on Facebook, but it wasn’t the same. We had also Skyped one time, and he was amazed at how much I changed and grew up from what he remembered me. My style was evolving and seeing him face to face was an amazing yet awkward feeling. He looked the same, but it felt as if we were meeting again for the first time. During our catching up with each other, there was a small earthquake, and I had to end the call abruptly. We didn’t talk again.

Me with friends in Peru in the first picture and Fabio on the day of his graduation in the second picture

A few months later, Halloween of 2015, I had messaged him back after ten unread “Hey” messages. I was going to a party, and I was excited to show him my pin-up girl costume. I had spent hours doing my subtle, but fierce makeup and wavy hair with some curls on top. He showered me with compliments and gave me a billion butterflies in my stomach. I knew my crush for him was still there even though he had no idea. I was bummed out I couldn’t spend the night with him, but I hoped to have fun with my friends anyway. Both of our nights went awful, and we talked the next day for hours about it. I had gotten a headache and wanted to go home since no one dressed up, and he had gotten into a bit of trouble with the police. He kept talking to me for days about his ex from our high school, and it honestly just irritated me. I decided to cut off all contact with him because I knew he wasn’t interested in me and I didn’t want to get my feelings hurt or get let down. I never told him how I felt and never dated anyone while living in Peru.

Halloween 2015

A few months passed by and I graduated high school in December of 2015. I was so relieved. For three years, I had to follow the school’s strict rules of no makeup, no other color hair dye nor nail polish, no piercings, no cell phones nor gum. The uniform was horrendous. It consisted of a white polo shirt with an unusually long, gray and blue plaid skirt that reached my knees followed by dark navy blue knee high socks and polished black shoes. About eight out of the twelve months in Lima, Peru it is down-to-the-bone cold with 90% humidity. There are no heaters in that country, so going to school in this uniform was hell for me. I would shiver all day and be stuck with the same, annoying classmates in one classroom. The day of my graduation, I had gotten ready quickly and threw on my aunt’s large black dress with a funky yellow belt because I wasn’t planning on spending $100 on a dress I would wear once. After the ceremony, I took a few pictures with friends and family and proceeded with joy on the way to my house. Not even two hours later, I was packing two suitcases for a midnight flight to go to Orlando and stay with my dad for a month.

Last day at school with this uniform
Graduation day

I was very excited to visit my dad and spend Christmas with him and my 24-year-old half-brother visiting from Connecticut. I had a lovely time eating Chinese takeout on Christmas day just the three of us and playing cards with groovy Latin music in the background. We spent New Years together and ate BBQ on fancy plastic plates. About three days into 2016, my dad was explaining to me about how much he would love to Skype me when I returned to Peru and asked if I could set up an account for him. I clicked on the little blue Skype logo and logged into my account, and the first contact that pops up is Fabio. I thought to myself, “ I haven’t talked to him in a while, I’ll see how he's doing.” He replied back instantly and asked me if we could video chat. We talked for 8 hours non-stop. We caught up with each other’s lives and talked about our memories. My favorite memory I recall was when I was having a horrible day, and instead of him dropping me off at home, we went to a nearby park and just talked for hours, then went and ate foot-long egg, potato, bacon and cheese breakfast burritos at Alfonso’s Mexican restaurant.

One of our Skype dates

I turned 18 on January 9th, and Fabio sang to me happy birthday and Skyped me all night long. He told me he had moved back from Germany to Washington a few months ago but that now he lived in Memphis because of a job offer he had received. It didn’t turn out the way he expected it to but got a different job instead. Every day he would text me and video chat with me. I felt my feelings for him come back stronger than ever. About the third week into January, I had to, unfortunately, return home. He wished me a safe flight as I made my way to the airport. We continued to talk every day about everything. About our childhood and our lives now. We told each other our deepest secrets no one else knows. I learned so much about him, and I was fascinated and entertained about how much we could talk. I would stay up with him until 4 a.m. chatting. He made me happy, something no other guy ever had done. One time, we talked about music, and we got into the old 90s rock and many other genres. He told me that his favorite song growing up was Mayonesa Chocolate. Coincidentally, it was my favorite song as a child too. I never knew how much in common we had and that made me feel closer to him.

It was February now, and he turned 21! We were both excited, and I knew I wanted to make him feel special even though I was far away. I bought him a vanilla cupcake with buttercream frosting, a little pink candle, and six different color helium balloons. I did my makeup and put on a black dress and some flats. I got on Skype and told him to close his eyes. I counted down from three and gave him this little surprise. I sang him a happy birthday song while he drank his first legal beer. He’s not a big drinker at all, so I was okay with that. We talked for a while until we both got sleepy and went to bed. On March 14th, he asked me to be his girlfriend. I was in shock and nervous at the same time. A part of me wanted to wait, but another part of me wanted to just go for it, so I said yes! I had been single for a little over three years, so of course, I was hoping for the best. I started university in April, but that didn’t stop me from talking to him as much as I always did. Of course, I was busier now, but I still made time for him no matter what. We sent each other handwritten letters and little gifts. He bought me wooden sugar skull and a moon pie. I had never had one before but either way I was beyond delighted. Throughout the next few months, we still talked very frequently, and little by little discovered each other a bit more. It resembled a kind of puzzle. Fabio had always been there for me since the first day I met him, and he would always cheer me up and make me laugh. I knew I wanted to be with him for a very, very long time.

Fabio's gift

I got out for winter break in July and had a month off. I was going to Colorado to visit some friends and to see my dad again in Orlando. But, there was no way I wasn’t going to visit Fabio. I hadn’t seen him in person since 2013 and we had been dating for almost five months at the time. My family is conservative and they were very against giving me permission to go and stay with him alone. After weeks of convincing, my dad said yes but my grandmother and aunt were very upset. I took the earliest flight I could the day I got out for break and stayed with my dad for a week. I was beyond ecstatic. Then I made my way to Colorado and stayed with my best friend Jess for three weeks. But the most important part of the trip was going to see Fabio last. I left the Colorado Springs airport at seven in the morning, made a connection in Dallas and arrived in Memphis at around 1 pm. I was shaking of nervousness. My heart was pounding and I felt like I was going to faint. It was my first time ever in Memphis so I was also anxious. I proceeded to the escalator to take me down to the baggage claim area. While I was trying to locate my bags on the conveyer belt, I kept spinning inn circles trying to find Fabio. I texted him saying I was here and he replied with “I’m parking, I'll be there soon.” About a minute later, I had all of my things with me and out of the corner, a handsome young man shows up with a dark blue dress shirt and a big bouquet of vibrant, red roses. I grabbed my bags and ran towards him crying with happiness. I held him tight for about five minutes just crying on his shoulder with his soft hands caressing my long, dark brown hair. He wiped away my tears and exclaimed “Hi, babe!!”. I couldn’t believe it was real. I gave him a huge kiss and he followed back with two more kisses and so forth. Out of his nervousness also, he forgot where he parked the car and we walked around the parking lot for about thirty minutes in eighty-degree weather. I didn’t mind though because I was happy to be next to him and we just laughed about it.

Our first photo booth picture

He showed me around town a little bit and took me to where he lived, to where I would stay for the next week and a half. I finally met his dog Macy, and she was such a sweetheart to me. We got ready at night time and went to eat some tasty sushi. Both of our stomachs were growling. Whenever he would drive around, I would hold onto his arm tightly and not let go. The next day my dad flew in to meet him and his family. We all came out to the Rendezvous Restaurant and then to the Peabody Hotel. Everyone had an excellent time getting to know each other, and I was glad my dad and Fabio got along well. They would converse just about anything as I did with Fabio. The next day my dad left and said he was happy for us both and that he knew I was in safe hands. A few days later, Fabio and I decided to get tattoos of a Colorado scenery, the place where we met four years ago. We booked a quick appointment and got to it. We went camping at Lake Sardis in Mississippi and had a blast. It was my first time too, so that was fun. I was paranoid about all the sounds I heard in the woods, but I had nothing to worry about. I had about two days left in town with him, and we decided to take a last minute trip to Nashville. We drove for four hours and talked about everything. We stayed in a small, but cozy Super 8 motel room near downtown and drove around all night just getting to know the place. We took a bunch of pictures and ate delicious hot chicken with creamy mac and cheese. On my last day, we returned to Memphis and went to Cracker Barrel in Arkansas. Throughout the whole dinner, I was just bawling my eyes out. I didn’t want to leave him at all. I felt so happy next to his side, and when we got home, we watched a movie and fell asleep in each other’s arms. The next morning, I had to leave, and he drove me back to the airport. We got a quick bite to eat, took a bunch of pictures again, and said our goodbyes for I don’t know how long. I wasn’t sure when the next time would be that I would see him and that made me profoundly sad. He asked me to come live with him, and I said I would think about it.

Our matching Colorado tattoos
Dinner with the family and Camping

It took a lot of convincing, but in October I moved out of Peru, against my family’s wishes, to be with Fabio. My dad’s side of the family agreed with what I wanted to do, but my mother’s side was very opposed to it. We had several discrepancies right before I left. I went to Florida and bought my first car. On the day before Halloween, my dad and I drove together for twelve hours to Memphis. I showed up at Fabio’s work and gave him a huge hug and kiss. That same day my dad took a flight back home and left me all by myself. It was a nerve-wracking experience for me because I was scared of what would happen next. I never lived alone ever before, especially with a significant other.

My last day in Peru

So far, everything between us has been going amazing. He supports me in every way possible. In December, we flew together to Colorado to spend Christmas with my family and visit old friends. We also celebrated my 19th and his 22nd birthday together and about two weeks ago, we celebrated our one year anniversary. We are both in school and have steady jobs. We now live in a lovely apartment with our dog Macy and love it. I’ve been incredibly lucky to have this wonderful man in my life, and we both appreciate and respect each other. There are sometimes where we do argue, but we look past that and always try and work things out. I am very proud of him, and I'm glad I had the opportunity to watch him grow and mature over the years and still have his bubbly and lively personality. He always makes sure I'm happy and stable. I know he is the one I want to be with for the rest of my life.

Our first Christmas in Colorado and my 19th birthday
His 22nd birthday and our one year anniversary
Us now
Created By
Maria Cook


Created with images by WasifMalik - "Colorado June 2015 Garden of the Gods Colorado Springs 013"

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