An Unexpected Connection Brings Two 78209 Neighbors Together for a Future Life Together
By Bruce Forey | Photography by Al Rendon
Angel Santiago and Vanessa Sanchez are long-time 78209 residents and may have crossed paths at a school event or the grocery store but never noticed. That changed when Angel’s daughter, Anjéa, invited her friend, Vanessa’s daughter, Roslyn, to Austin for Comic Con, a pop culture convention that brings in talent from the world of comics, movies, and TV. Roslyn told her mom that Anjéa’s father would drive them to Austin. Being a protective mother, Vanessa wasn’t comfortable with that idea.
“I was like, oh, no. This is not happening. I’m sorry. You’re not going by yourself. If you want to go, I’m going with you,” Vanessa said.
Both sides planned to meet at a gas station to follow each other to Austin. Vanessa had a change of heart after she met Angel.
“We just saw each other, and there was definitely something between us,” Angel said. “After talking for a few minutes, I told her why take two cars? Let’s just ride together. Something told her it was okay to do this,” said Angel.
There’s something about a road trip that compels people to bare their souls. Similar life experiences and values were part of that conversation. What really resonated was their similar paths toward spiritual enlightenment and personal growth.
“As I listened to Angel, I thought, how are you on the same journey as me?” Vanessa said. “I wasn’t looking to date anybody. Then, out of nowhere, I had never been more comfortable with anybody in my life.”
Soon after Comic Con, they went on their first date. They kept it simple and met for coffee. As with a road trip, chatting over a cup of java gives people time to learn more about each other. They talked more about each other’s family, personal interests, and careers.
Angel specializes in life and spiritual coaching. He also works with professionals and business owners to develop their leadership skills. His expertise in this area was honed as a member of the Corps of Cadets at Texas A&M. Angel also writes on leadership for 78209 Magazine, where he interviews local business owners for insight into their leadership styles.
“Leadership is not about position. Leadership is not about title. Leadership is not about a team. It’s about how you are leading yourself,” said Angel. “The better you can lead yourself physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually, the better you show up for yourself, the better you show up for your family, the better you show up for your community.”
Vanessa is a licensed massage therapist. She has two related business operations. She rents studio space for traditional massages and operates a chair massage business in a luxury auto dealership. Her commitment to mind and body includes being a certified yoga instructor. Vanessa also shares her faith and study of the Bible as a volunteer at her church. There, she provides biblical care counseling for people open to spiritual guidance.
Vanessa and Angel have been ’09ers for more than nine years now. They love the small-town feel and walking to shops and restaurants. One of their favorite activities is visiting our local coffee shops. Dining out is also a shared interest with Asian Fusion tops on their culinary tastes.
Another aspect of 78209 they appreciate is the Alamo Heights I.S.D. schools. Their daughters, Anjéa and Roslyn, are freshmen at Alamo Heights High School. Anjéa is in the marching band’s drum line. Roslyn is a member of the Spanish Club and Cosmetology Club. Both parents say the school district delivers an excellent educational experience.
“They offer so much with the curriculum and activities,” Vanessa said. “Parents with children at other school districts tell me they can’t believe my daughter is taking yoga and a clothing design class. These are classes other kids don’t have an option to take.”
More than two and a half years since their shared ride to Austin, Angel and Vanessa are now engaged. They’re targeting November 2024 for the wedding. Their daughters and a comic convention created the introduction. Their strong faith established the bond. Together, Angel and Vanessa are committed to contributing to our community through their passions and strengths and frequenting 78209 coffee shops.