Nubia and Brian

How We Met

How we met: True childhood sweethearts, we met each other popping (milk) bottles (quite literally!) at Mrs. Hunter’s daycare on the Southside of Chicago, as 3 month-old babies. We often glamorize our meeting by saying ‘our mothers touched bellies and our fate was sealed!’ When actually, our older brothers, who are both four years our senior, attended the same elementary school and it was logistically easier for both sets of parents to put us in daycare nearby. After Brian’s family moved out of the neighborhood in 1992, we reunited as middle school frenemies in the Whitney Young High School Academic Center. Our distaste for one another was actually neither of our doing. Brian’s childhood best-friend made a hurtful joke about me, claiming that I looked like a ‘Nubian Goat’. While I applaud said friend for keen historical research about Eastern Africa, especially as a 7th grader, it was a cruel statement. And thus, I disliked Brian by association. The angst didn’t last long as Brian and I dated in 8th grade and a bit during the summer between Junior High and High School.

Wedding Proposal Ideas in New York, New York - in our Harlem Apartment!

Our Junior High School courtship was short-lived as we reverted back to frenemies throughout High School until the fall of Senior Year, when Nubia caught my eye again during her dance performance in the Senior Talent Show. I called Nubia after the show to congratulate her and we met up for a group date at a local sandwich shop. After that night, we began officially dating and even attended Winter Formal and Senior Prom together, and were basically inseparable during the summer leading up to college. Despite Brian going to college in Tallahassee, FL, and Nubia to college in Washington DC, we vowed to stay together. And while we had the best of intentions, the distance between us and teenage immaturity led us to break it off during sophomore year in college.

As Nubia tells it, she was in a committed relationship with me but I wasn’t in a committed relationship to her! A congratulatory ‘check-in’ call from Nubia to me in May of 2006 (she really wanted to see if I’d managed to graduate in four years!) rekindled our permanent flame. Nubia went on a short girls’ trip to Miami right after walking across the graduation stage and I picked her up from the airport in Chicago when she landed. We again were inseparable the summer after graduating from college, until Nubia left for her full-time job in New York and I stayed in Chicago. We suffered through the distance for a year before I took the leap and moved to New York to be with Nubia, moving to Harlem together in 2007.

Engagement Proposal Ideas in New York, New York - in our Harlem Apartment!

Throughout our time living together, we often joked that if we received a dollar for every ‘when are you two getting married?’ conversation, the wedding would be paid for 3-times over. And although we were fairly comfortable with the structure of our relationship, I knew that if I didn’t take the next step, I may have lost Nubia. Although she enjoyed filling her time with her career, volunteer activities, and endurance events, she wanted the assurance to add me to the top of her priority list and didn’t feel 100% comfortable doing so until I set things in stone. And together, we also knew how important our union was to our parents, especially as they respectively approach the sunset of their lives.

On November 4, 2016, I asked Nubia for her hand in marriage (shockingly, she says!) and on November 4, 2018, we will wed. We are truly grateful that there isn’t a point in our lives where we haven’t been connected – in space, time, or spirit. And we look forward to making November 4th the most beautiful and sentimental celebration to honor our lifetime of love…34 years in the making.

Our relationship timeline:

Fall 1984: Popped our first ‘bottles’ together at Ms. Hunter’s daycare.

Fall 1992: Brian’s family moved out of the neighborhood :(

Fall 1996: We reunited in Jr. High, first as frenemies, and finally as BF/GF in 8th grade.

Summer 1998: Out of sight, out of mind! Back to frenemies.

Fall 2001: I called Nubia ‘out of the blue’ after her performance in the Senior Talent Show.

Spring 2004: Lasting through the end of HS and a bit in college, we fizzled once again.

Spring 2006: A congratulatory ’check in’ call from Nubia before graduation reignited our permanent flame.

November 4, 2016: I ask for Nubia’s hand in marriage, forever ever.

November 4, 2018: Exactly two years after our engagement, we will wed!

how they asked

Our Proposal Story: I decided I wanted to surprise Nubia and propose to her on her 32nd birthday, but the ring I custom designed with KatKim Fine Jewelry would not be ready in time for the big day. So, I lied and said the gift I planned to give her from Crate and Barrel (where I worked at the time) was back-ordered and wouldn’t be ready for a few weeks. When the ring was finally ready, I knew what I would do. I purchased a very lovely glass jewelry box from Crate and Barrel and decided to put the ring inside. I printed a fake shipping label, damaged the outside of the box a bit to make it look worn from the ‘shipping’ process, and pretended that it had been delivered and left it downstairs with our doorman. That night, we attended a comedy show at the Apollo Theater. Nubia is on the Young Patrons Board of the Apollo Theater and didn’t consider the outing a ‘big deal’ so she actually came to the show after a session at the gym, fresh-faced and ‘no frills’ as she says.

Because we lived in Harlem, we walked home after the show, stopping briefly to pick up some takeout on the way. When we got to our building, it was game on! I said to the doorman, “I think I have a package”, which he confirmed, and gave me the box (he was in on the surprise as well!). When we got up to our apartment, Nubia changed into her pajamas, turned on Netflix, and began eating her takeout. I said, “Hey, do you want to open your birthday gift”? “Oh yeah,” she replied. When she saw the Crate & Barrel box she sarcastically exclaimed “Oh! You got me a gift from your job? How sweet!’ In full transparency, Nubia’s birthday is the first week of October and I proposed the first Friday in November.

I think the timing also added to her unenthused response. When she opened the box, her reaction was minimal. “A jewelry box…that’s nice….oh wait, there’s something inside.” At this point, I began to get down on one knee, as she looked a little closer. I took her hand in mine. “Is this a…..wait…..are you serious?” she said. I took the ring from the box and said: “Will you marry me?” She said yes, of course, but sat there a bit shocked. There were no tears, but more a perplexed look as to how I planned all of this (figuring out her ring size, finding a ring designer, purchasing a ring, etc.) without her knowing. I actually had to explain the planning process in order for her to finally enjoy the moment! After sharing the good news with our parents and siblings, we made a video dancing around the apartment to Outkast – Int’l Players Anthem to commemorate the big day!

Special Thanks

Dana Scruggs
Tricia Smith Brown