You and Vera became close friends the summer she spent in Portland. She stayed with your family for some of the time, and for that summer effectively was the daughter your mom always wanted.
Vera has lived the last year in New York City working for a high-end art gallery. She calls about every other week. You usually talk about her life in New York, fun art stuff she's seen, etc. It is a nice arrangement because you like to hear about her stories because it makes you feel more connected to life in New York, and she needs to tell someone.
Working in a gallery is the quickest way to make artists not want to have a professional career in art; while working in the gallery it has been hard for Vera to make her own work.