When I met Andrés in 2008, I think I complimented his tie. (He wore ties to all events in 2008.) I liked him immediately. He is a quiet guy, I suppose, and so our first interactions were a bit suspicious (Am I right about this? He might remember it differently.) Andrés was in his freshman year of college at this point...
We must have become friends over the following year. I'm not quite sure I remember how, but it happened slowly. He was a dancer in FSU's production of Thoroughly Modern Millie (a musical I still insist upon liking.) The show featured the incredible Kate Beahen with some choreography by my dear friend Michael Fatica. Any time Andrés was onstage I was looking at him. What ever "it" is that people have, Andrés has it. I couldn't take my eyes off of him the whole show. He is one of the most energetic, hard-working, dedicated people I know, and his love of dancing always shines through in his work. I'm not sure if his dancing is effortless – but it is infused. Brecht talks about not wanting to watch musicals that other people have directed because of how hard all of the actors are working; he got exhausted watching them, he said. Andrés never looks like that onstage. He always looks like he is having a great time (and it's because he is).
By 2009 Andrés was wearing t-shirts and dress pants to fancy events. In the summer of '09 Andrés stayed in Tallahassee over the summer and the two of us began to hang out regularly. We would spend hours together, meeting for dinner or drinks or watching YouTube clips, one after another. That summer, my friend Andrew Wei Lin died and I was grieving quietly, mostly at home. When Andrés called and I told him that Andy had died, I also told him that I was doing fine and that I wanted to be alone. He wasn't having it. "Meet me at the coffee shop in thirty minutes," he said, and then he was gone. I will never forget what this meant to me. Ever. And I can never thank him enough for being present with me as I mourned my friend. We talked about someone that he was in love with: a boy who had gotten under his skin, about whom he was excited and happy and positive. It was a lovely two hours or so, and I spent the conversation remembering the times when I felt that way about Andy. It was exactly what I needed.
One of our inside jokes is that Andrés loves to remind me how much older than him I am. It's a bit of a hobby. (Michael Fatica does this too, to great effect.) Both of them always refer to me as though I am sixty-five. It's quite hilarious, really. (Good thing I'm not sensitive at all about my age...)
In 2010 the outfit of choice for dress events was a vest. Andrés wore vests with everything. And he and I would go to late dinners when we could, and chat about New York, and sex, and guys, and the things that inspire us. When he was off in New York the summer of 2010, we skyped regularly, and shared our awesome theatrical experiences. I am so proud of how much work he is doing, how ambitious he is, how hard he works, how much he wants to be the best at what he does. I remember saying to my major professor how exciting and energizing it is to have someone in my life like Andrés, who refuses to be held back by anything at all.
I love how close Andrés is with his mother. I love how deeply and completely he is willing to love a partner. I love how much he loves the theatre. I love how much he loves latinidad. And I have never met anyone who loves dance as much. He is truly an inspiration to me, and I am proud and grateful to know him.