In Her Quietness

It's a dark cloudy overcast cold mid-winter afternoon here in Cincinnati.  I sit in her studio looking through the slightly dirty window onto the Over The Rhine street below.  Despite the weather, I feel really good. I am contented because I'm with her.  I can make something, watch her draw, and we can talk. It’s warm in here and there were plenty of sunny days this past summer. So there’s no reason for me to feel gloomy or wish I was on some beach somewhere.

She's this quiet gentle soul who is giving of her ideas, thoughts, as well as her kindness. I hope I am as kind and giving.

I met her on the bus one day going to work Downtown.  We just started talking. Ever since...well, in the past seven years we've been together, we seem to never grow tired of our talks.

I look around this space and I see this particularly precise and detailed drawing of this fairytale place she drew with a #2 pencil on a sheet of gray cardboard.

She just sat down one day and started to draw on the back of a 3 foot square discarded sign, probably used as a cigarette advertisement. She took it home from Kroger’s and painted some gesso over the front to cover the ad. I guess she wanted to paint something on it. But it got set aside with the back facing out. Then one day she just started to draw on the gray back with a pencil.

Among her other creative endeavors, every day she would draw a little more.

What my dearest was drawing wasn't anything absurd, rather it is a dreamy like forest with these very tall trees.  At the base of them is this small Dutch house...or as my mother would tell us as tiny children, “…a gingerbread house.”

Several months after she started it, I asked her about it and she said, “It was something in a dream…”

“I can’t remember where…or even if I saw such a house,” she continued in a pondering voice.

In looking at it, I realize it was a drawing of the exact house I saw many times as a little boy on Snider Road not far from my childhood home. I thought of taking her to see the house, but I then remembered it got torn down and replaced with a commonplace suburban box. Even the tall trees are all gone now.


The last time I saw this house was in the early 70s and it looked like a stucco Dutch house with a red door centered between two small windows with flower boxes. And, it had a gingerbread looking roof. It was quite picturesque and one of my fond childhood memories.

I told her about how I remembered it and she felt warm inside. Our quiet discussion went from this little house to other memories as children.

Her childhood was more sedate with only one brother as compared to my tumultuous upbringing with 8 other brothers and sisters. Her life was more formal and like my family, hers too was rather artsy. It is my mother who’s the artist and amateur classical musician. It’s her father who is the writer and jazz pianist. Similar to my father’s engineering temperament, her mother is a high paid investment officer for a major bank. But, both sets of parents are very bright and out of the norm. So, I guess, are her and I.

After these many years, we still hold hands.  I still get a warm feeling as I did when she left me her phone number in my hand between hers as I got up to get off the bus.

I think about her often in a day, as I did that day we met.  Most of the nice things I have I take for granted.  But her, I'm always thankful for, as she says she is for me.

Our lives are peaceful and...sedate. 

We seem to be out of the mainstream. I seldom know what is in the news.  She, however, seems to understand what is going on, even though she doesn't listen to the radio or read the paper.  It’s the little conversations with coworkers or clients that keeps her informed.  She's an activities director for a nursing home.

I, on the other hand, have a different job.  My profession is in engineering design of small sophisticated devices such as portable medical equipment.  The three of us in the office have been together for a long time.  Our camaraderie allows us to work very well together.  Our devices have saved countless lives.

In these seven years, I saved and invested. My stock in the company has grown such that it will allow me to retire early so I can be free to seek the many wonders of life including make many things out of wood, metal, or clay, both practical…and not.

She is simple and frugal.  But, we seem to have nice stuff.  It's amazing what she can find or fix.  What was discarded is now beautiful, such as what most have and call antiques.  She can take a simple piece of cloth and make it into something wonderful and practical.

I kind of envy her ability of forming art out of nothing, as she is of my technical abilities.  Our opposites are the two ends of us.

This is us...together forever

Stephen E. Fall 1987