I've never been that big of a fan of Valentine's Day... except back in 5th grade when Tim Vinson won the raffle for the big satin heart of chocolates and he came and sat them on my desk. That was cool.
The best Valentine's ever though was in 1996 when it was clear I needed to have a little DTR with my best friend, Adam. He and I went to see a ballet on that Friday night, 2/9, at the Koger Center in Columbia. It was the Rite of Spring and we both thought it seemed a little like R-rated ballet. From where we were sitting up in the balcony, all we could see was flesh (colored leotards) and lots of "animals" participating in the "rite of spring". It was quite artistic but a little awkward when you are hanging out with a friend and trying to help him earn "culture" points for some class. We went to IHOP after - who knew that would be recorded as our official first date??
The next day he helped me move over with some girls from church into a new apartment. They were really neat girls and even though we didn't have tons in common, I was excited to be firmly changing some of my old habits and choosing roommates who I knew wouldn't stumble because of me or let me pull them in to my junk. They were solid. Still, the reason Adam and I had grown so close over the last few months was because of my need to be around some decent people and get out of the party scene. I struggled knowing I wasn't perfect and most of my new friends were. Well, of course they weren't but compared to me, I thought they wore halos. Adam, on the other hand, had shared some of his struggles and helped me to see that even a good kid has issues and battles the same things as many kids in their first years of college. It made me feel good to know that he had puked a time or two on random people and not because of the flu. So after many times hanging out in groups and then ending the evening just hanging out together and laughing a lot... he helped me move furniture. The afternoon was spent in the park with all of the girls and all the movers. It was dreamy - a beautiful day (much like today might be) with some frisbee throwing and tackling :)
Sunday morning. We all headed to church and there was Adam in Sunday school. We sat beside each other and that was just normal but starting to be expected. Then we went into worship and this other girl that had sort of liked Adam (and he had definitely liked her) came up and sat on the other side of him. Church was over and I bolted. He stopped me at the door and I just said I would probably nap for the day and I would see him back for the "love one another" banquet that night, 2/11. I napped. Then I made it back for the banquet and he came up to me and said he was sitting with his parents. I told him me and the girls were having all of our friends over to celebrate our new apartment and he should come. He asked if I would ride to his parents house first to get some art work he needed to work on for a class. I said sure. We rode out and I met his family for the first time. I was still very prideful, insecure and rebellious so making a great first impression wasn't exactly something I was worried about. I was excited to meet the coolest dog ever, Davis. He was a beagle/choc lab mix and he was beautiful. His parents were very nice but parents made me uncomfortable. I could go into explaining all kinds of stupid things from my past that might explain this but I'll just say I had just accepted the Lord as my Savior and until then, my life had not been too smart or pretty and my level of insecurity was through the roof.
So we headed to my new apartment. We rode up to see the girl's car that Adam had liked sitting in the parking lot along with all of our other friends. She was a good friend to both us but at this point and time, I didn't want to deal with her. Adam mentioned something about her as we walked up and I told him I didn't want to be the person he talked to anymore about her. He kind of smiled and said okay. That night she showered him with attention like I had never seen. There was nothing inappropriate but I had watched boys like her for so long and had never seen this kind of reciprocation. Adam tried to get my attention a time or two but I was steaming and was better left alone. When everyone else finally left, he was still there and the DTR ensued... sort of. And a first kiss :)
Monday and Tuesday went by sort of busy and quiet between us. We weren't official and so my girl friends and I had planned a Valentine's dinner on Wednesday night 2/14/96, just for girls. We always went to FCA at USC on Wednesdays but this time we were just going to be a little late and cook a special dinner. We walked into FCA right as the last worship song ended and everyone sat down. You have to understand that this is a very large room that FCA was held in and all of these college kids are crammed in sitting on the floor. As we saw all of our friends right up front, Adam motioned for us. I shook my head and motioned for him (who happened to be sitting pretty close with the group which contained the other girl). He stood up and walked through the crowd of college students... "excuse me", "excuse me", "excuse me"... I don't think I could stop smiling. HE CHOSE ME. In front of everyone and with all of our friends witnessing it, he chose me. No one had ever really made me feel so special. Our wedding wouldn't happen until April 10,1999 but this day among witnesses has never left my heart!!