Late one evening in the winter of 1991, I ran out of my college dorm room in Brooklyn to catch the first glimpse of snow I had ever seen in my life. I was walking through campus and came upon a beautiful red headed girl building a snow sculpture and asked her what she was making. “The Sphinx” she said, “and the Pyramids, wanna help?”. “Sure”, I said. “Well, then, start packing snow for the Pyramids!” , she said. I think I have a thing for assertive women, because I was smitten.
I told her it was the first time I had seen snow, and she asked me where I was from. “Cuba”, I said. She gave me a look that made me realize my beloved homeland was likely another place South of the Mason-Dixon line to her. “Well, I’m from New Hampshire, where we get plenty of snow all the time”, she said. I knew New Hampshire was somewhere near…..Canada?
And so, that’s how I met Jennifer, my future wife and the mother of our two lovely kids. We spent the rest of our college years together, while we both studied painting and drawing at Pratt Institute. We modeled for each other’s drawings, were each other’s subjects for photography assignments and studied together for a Summer abroad in Venice.
Pencil on paper, 20" x 27", 1993
We graduated from college in 1994 and moved into an apartment in Brooklyn. Both of us got jobs as designers, her at an advertising agency and later Esquire magazine, and myself at TIME. She also worked at Entertainment weekly and TIME as well. Jennifer art directed TIME’s Notebook section for many years until she left to become a full time stay at home mom in 2004. Before having kids, we went on many trips and were able to spend some time with her family in Brussels and Prague as well as with my family in Havana. She introduced me new kinds of music and light European fare, I introduced her to Latin music and foods deep fried in lard. A match made in heaven.
Since I tend to focus on the day at hand, every good, forward looking decision in our lives has been Jennifer’s idea. Leaving Brooklyn and buying a house was her idea, the right time to have kids, what I should be eating, how often I should floss, you get the idea. When I had a day job and did my art at night or on weekends, I was often asked by my friends how I was able to do it all. The answer was always “Jennifer”. She took care of our daughter, took care of the house, paid the bills, and was a wonderful cook. When I get stuck on a particular project, Jennifer is the person I go to to discuss the problem. Having been an art director herself for many years, her help is invaluable.
Jen is a rather private person, but on this Mother’s Day, I wanted to write a little something for her. I also wanted to show some drawings I’ve done and photos I’ve taken of her since we met on that snowy evening back in 1991. It is pretty awe inspiring to see someone I’ve known so long become such a loving and beautiful mother.
Proofsheet from one of my first attempts at black and white photography, 1991
Room in Venice, summer 1992
Reading on a boat, Danube river, 1998
Room in Jennifer's family's home in Brussels, 1992
Drawing at the Church of Sacre Couer, Paris, September, 1996. We got engaged the following day.
Train from Brussels to Paris, watercolor, 1992
Madrid hotel room, 1996
Stitching something, hotel room in Cairo, Egypt, 1999. Jen never travels without a sewing kit!
On plane from Cairo to Luxor, 1999.
Jen on boat, landing in Tangiers, Morocco, 1996
2004. The birth of our first baby took a very long time. Many things were attempted to try and induce contractions. Acupuncture was recommended as an option. Jen tried it, and it did not do a thing!