Their encounter was pure coincidence. I usually try to never overlap a shoot especially for The White Shirt Project, as it involves creating a safe space to share personal events that are relevant to the mission of the project. However it didn't happen that particular day, and I'm glad it did not. We all got to know one anther outside the virtual reality that has become the norm. I supplied the snacks and and they took charge of the chatter for a good hour, which would be normal before any of my shoots. Priscilla threaded cautiously at first, and so did Hector. After the usual casual inquisitions they were engulfed in each other's presence and became friends.
Hector and I met at The Monster Bar in NYC in 2008. That was one of a handful of times we exchanged hello's until we became online friends in August 2016. We fully engaged after my friend Egyptt, invited me and my friend Connie, to attend a function where a Boston Market meal was the main attraction, at least for me it was. There sat Hector, as I walked towards him I could see the subtle preparations he made to get ready to meet me once again.
I have to say that there was consistency with Hector, and in everything that I had experienced with him. He served many surprises in my direction like his wittiness, his recall, and his constant humor. The version of Hector, the only one that I knew is the one that I'll share. Hector and I had developed a texting relationship that consisted of some pretty twisted yet funny videos. There was a vast list of #stillmoist attached to his posts, so I would call him a 'dirty old man' as often as I could.
He was quick to point things out to, and even faster in dismissing me. I felt that wrath of silence once, just once. He had shared so many of his experiences with me, but the one thing that he would always mention is how he didn't have a need to share his good deeds. He talked about loyalty and being there for so many people until their last days until he lost count of how many people he'd lost.
Hector told me about his ability to recall, and how he did it. It's called 'I write everything down.' Everything goes in the book like the time of day, temperature, climate, what he wore, what was on TV, etc. He made sure that what he had to say was indisputable, as he kept receipts for years --for everything!
Those quick responses, receipts and his unique sense of humor mixed with 'shade and sauce' held you captive for his next trick. I have a slew of videos he'd sent me overtime that were funny, bizarre and plain old nasty. However, we would eventually call each other to catch up.
There is a lot in between the years that I can recall, however let me fast forward to the last public event in which he received an award. He called me to tell me all about it, and as always he'd say thank you after I congratulated and told him how proud I was of him. We had been setting up and canceling photo-shoots ever since we started our backchannel, but on this particular call, he asked if I could reformat and send 'The White Shirt Project' image of himself. It was one of his favorite pictures.
I knew he that he felt the hesitation in my response, but not for refusing to send that particular image, but rather because we never get around to scheduling his head-shots and everything else we talked about shooting due to all of his projects and commitments. I asked him what he needed, and I immediately started to work on it. I created a release to ensure that at minimum he had something in the background while he received his award and spoke. He texted me the shot of him and the image right away, and again I was proud, and I told him. It was the beginning of December 2018.
Not long after I received a text from him, he was in the hospital and sent me some pictures of himself indicating the reason why he was there on the image. I tried to text, and call but I knew he didn’t want to communicate. I had no idea it would be the last set of pics and texts he would send me. I received a call from a friend a few days later that Hector left us. I know in time there’ll be many personal accounts of the impact Hector had on everyone, but I needed to share mine and to say that I'm thankful we became friends.