This is what's on my heart this Valentine's Day...
They say that opposites attract. My wife Shari and I may be living proof. The closest we came to having something in common is found in our high school records: she was always on the Dean's list and I was regularly being sent to the Dean's office.
I was a rebellious teen, and my folks decided that I needed religion to straighten me out. My family began attending Faith Presbyterian Church.
That first Sunday at Faith I will never forget. Right over the minister's left shoulder, seated in the choir loft, was a beautiful blonde with blue eyes. I couldn't take my eyes off of her. As we were leaving church my parents remarked, "Darin seemed really engaged in what the preacher was saying - he never took his eyes off of him!"
The very next Sunday I dragged my friend Todd to church. I told him, "Do you see that girl? I'm going to marry her!" Todd responded, "It's good that you're here in church - you better start praying."
The next week I brought a couple more friends along. My folks were so pleased, "Not only does Darin love our new church but he's inviting all his friends along. He's a budding evangelist."
There was one problem: I was deathly afraid to talk to her. She was a 'church girl', the choir director's daughter, no less.
For the next year and a half I admired her from afar. I suppose these days they'd call it stalking. I followed her to and from school and to all her extra-curricular activities. Everywhere she went I showed up. I got to where I knew her schedule and routines better than she did.
At the end of 1984, Bruce Springsteen was on tour. My friends and I camped out and got some really good tickets for the show. This was my chance. My hands trembled as I dialed the phone. My friends all crowded around to see how it would go.
It took Shari a few minutes to figure out who I was. I couldn't very well say, "You know, the guy who is stalking you." Eventually she figured it out. I mustered up the courage and asked her to the concert. She replied, "I'd like to go, but could you get an extra ticket for my boyfriend?" My heart sank, but I heard myself say, "Sure, I'll get him a ticket too."
Thankfully, the boyfriend decided he didn't want to go, and our first 'date' was set. It spelled the beginning of that guy's end.
There's just something about Jersey Shore music. That night we both knew that we had found a dear friendship. In the coming months our friendship deepened. We walked on the beach holding hands. We talked about our hopes, our dreams and our fears. Along the way, we found true love.
After a few years of dating, I did indeed marry that beautiful blonde in the church choir. This coming May we will be celebrating our 17th Anniversary. Along the way we've been blessed with four wonderful daughters.
Our differences turned out to be a strength. We compliment each other. My wife and I are an ideal fit: two having become one.
Over the years one thing has not changed. My heart still races whenever I see her. I'm still thrilled when she reaches to hold my hand. There is nothing that makes me prouder than stepping out into the world with my wife on my arm. There's nothing, this side of heaven, more precious to me that Shari. I love her more than words can express.
So for Valentine's Day, tonight, we'll likely curl up together to a little Bruce Springsteen music. You can be sure, I'll be the happiest guy in town.