Love At First Brush Stroke

Updated: Feb 20

A romantic ecstasy centered on artistic harmony. I fell in love when I first laid eyes on him.

Pictures of Ruby Dee and Ossie Davis


In the summer of 1976, I decided to go back to college to get my second Master's degree. I was undecided about where I wanted to go, but I knew I wanted to go to school out of state. So I spent the summer touring different colleges and one college in particular, Howard University, was where I would meet the love of my life.


On a pleasant summer day in July, I was with a group of prospective undergraduates touring Howard University. While viewing the campus, a young man walked past my group, holding in his hand The Autobiography of Malcolm X. The book captured my attention because I had lost my copy of the book during the 1975 Livernois–Fenkell riot. My family and I were visiting my uncle, who lived in the Detroit area. We were passing by when the riot took place. I vaguely remember that day, but all I can recall is that there was a horrific traffic jam and then fights broke out. My family had to abandon our car and belongings. While trying to flee to safety, I dropped my book in the process.


As a result, when I saw him holding The Autobiography of Malcolm X, he instantly captured my attention. I walked over to him and asked him what he thought about the book. We then had a deep discussion about Malcolm X, the Panthers, and other civil rights leaders. I ultimately ended up losing my group, and he walked with me until I caught back up with my group. I was mesmerized by our conversation, but I later realized that we didn’t exchange numbers. I felt empty inside, feeling like I had lost someone special. I devoted the next few days wandering around campus, hoping I would discover him, but no luck. I then realized that he told me that he was in graduate school for Fine Arts, which I had a Minor in Fine Arts. My goal was to take up African Studies in graduate school, but I decided to switch my major to Fine Arts in hopes of seeing him again. Which I ultimately did during the second semester when we had the same Art History class. When I saw him, I immediately went over to talk to him after class. He ended up asking me to go to dinner with him later that night, to which I excitedly said yes.


We enjoyed an amazing dinner at a soul food restaurant near campus. The food was absolutely incredible and triggered fond memories of my grandmother’s cooking back in Shreveport, Louisiana. After dinner, he asked me if I could be his muse, and I responded, "Only if you can be mine." He chuckled and agreed. Over the course of several months, we would undergo many sessions of painting each other. The time we spent painting each other established an impenetrable bond between us. He made me wait almost a year before he officially asked me to be his girlfriend. He asked me by composing a poem that reads:


The moon and the sun came together and shined on your beauty.

In my dreams, we kiss under the stars.

My life is incomplete without you.

So will you be mine?


I replied "yes!" Then, a year later, he would graduate with his Masters and I would have our first child. On his graduation date, he handed me his diploma and said, "Look inside" which I obliged. It was a poem he wrote, and he wanted me to read it out loud. The poem reads as follows:


Your love moves the stars into alignment.

Your eyes sparkle like the rarest diamond.

The love I feel for you, I cannot explain.

But I cannot go another day without you having my last name.


He got on his knees with his cap and gown on. He held our son in one arm and his great grandmother’s ring in the other hand. Our classmates, friends, and family all watched as he asked me for his hand in marriage. I gracefully said, "YES!"


Six months later, on November 17th, 1978, we got married in a small church outside of DC. We would go on to have four more children, three boys, and two girls altogether. The following year, I would complete my second Master’s degree and eventually my Ph.D. in 2001. My husband and I have found a way to stay together and remain best friends for over 44 years now. Some people find love at first sight; we found love at first brush stroke.


 

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Dr. Stacy (Ladash) Mugabe Ph.D. – Guest Writer

Retired Art Therapist and Educator

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