So softball was my life. As far as I was concerned, not much else existed. Eat, sleep, softball. I made good grades in high school graduating with a 4.25 GPA and could have chosen practically any college that I wanted to attend. I went for the softball scholarship.
Before I get to college, let me back up to May 1997 right before graduation. I had known Allen for about 4 years. We had a mutual friend, John. John always had the hots for me, but to me, it would have been like kissing my brother if we'd ever gone further exploring that relationship. Gross. John and Allen were good friends, and my Senior year, I noticed him. I was like, WOW. He's hot. When did he get this hot? So I had just gotten out of a 2 year relationship with my ex, Clint, because he just could not be faithful. I'll share many things, but a man is not one of them. Sorry. Not my style. So anyway, I started chasing Allen. I went in hot pursuit! We were so different. We were both jocks and had mutual friends, but that was the extent of our knowledge of each other. I was one of the popular girls in high school, and he was just another Redneck boy that looked damn good in his Marine Corps ROTC uniform, might I add!! I started making myself around John more and more when I knew Allen would be there, and finally got him alone one day. Ok, so I had to follow the boy to work. He was working at Winn-Dixie grocery store at the time, and he smelled like fish- ugh... not very pleasant... He had to work in seafood that day. I waited for him in the parking lot. We talked for 2 hours in the parking lot. He hugged me by, and I knew from that moment on that I was in love, and that I could spend the rest of my life wrapped up in his arms. He's 6'6" tall with big strong arms... I still remember seeing him that night in that parking lot in my dreams a lot of times! haha! So we kinda became a couple from that point on. I was still wounded and very untrusting from my previous relationship, but opened my heart up and made room for him. We were inseparable from that point forward. It was the best summer of my life. However, at the end of the summer... I parted for Montgomery, Alabama to go to Huntingdon College, and we were both pretty sure that was probably the end of a good thing. We kept in touch briefly, but I became more interested in partying and boys down there and much less interested in coming home to see and spend time with Allen. So needless to say, Allen and I lost touch in October of 1997 after I did him VERY wrong (and I am very ashamed of that!).
So I go to college in Alabama on my softball scholarship. It was awesome, (I never mentioned before that I was the catcher), and I expanded my skills by learning to play 3rd base. It was wonderful and I loved it. I was on starting lineup and the leadoff hitter. I was team captain-as a Freshman!! I learned a lot in college. Much more than bookwork. College and softball was my first true exposure to homosexuality. I was quite ignorant to the whole thing. No one in my hometown was "admittingly" gay. My first roommate was gay, and I always walked in our room at the wrong time. You catch my drift, I'm sure. Well I got wrapped up in playing ball, but with being a college jock comes free parties, alcohol, etc. I never was much of a partier back home, we always had fun without alcohol. And my parents would have crapped a gold brick if they knew I was drinking. They kept their thumb on me pretty well, and I never really explored my options with alcohol, etc. So college was my first REAL taste of freedom and man was it sweet! However, I was not mature enough to keep that freedom in check, and it got the best of me. I got a little bit homesick, and alcohol rescued me. I partied all the time, non-stop. I barely passed my first semester with a 2.5 GPA because I just went to class long enough to take tests. I had to take a 2-week session at the beginning of January to get my GPA to the point that I was athletically eligible.
My partying regimen ended up being my demise in softball. I got kicked off the team due to my excess drinking, showing up for practice still drunk from the night before, showing up late to practice, etc. I was so rock-bottom at that point, I could've cared less- sadly enough to say. I ended up moving off campus with a friend and just completely ditched my second semester and flunked everything naturally. Thank God my mother, my best friend, knew my cry for help. She never gave up on me. In June of 1998, my mom and her sister Tamy came to my rescue in Slap Out, Alabama (I swear that was the name of the town!). I loaded all of my earthly belongings into my aunts burgundy Astro van and made my journey home.
Now, I had disappointed a lot of people by blowing my softball scholarship and my first year of college. My parents and my entire community. But the most important person that I had disappointed was MYSELF. In a year, I had gone from hometown hero to a fashionable flunkey. I had a lot of pieces to pick up, but I was up for the challenge.
Meanwhile, I came back home and rekindled my flame with Allen. He was very skeptical because I had really hurt him... but I won his heart over again. I was so lucky he even looked my way again. We considered ourselves "official" in August of 1998 again, and I was in it to win it this time! He proposed in April of 1999 and we were married in December of the same year. 9 years going strong. We have the most wonderful marriage! I truly married my best friend.
I went back to my old job at KMart and signed up with a temp agency. One thing that I could do was type up a fury and have a very pleasant phone voice. I landed a job at Curtiss-Wright here in the next town over and got my taste of the business world. I loved it. I knew that this was my calling. In March 2000, I was laid off from this position, and my world crashed again. I knew what I had to do. I had to belly up to the challenge and go back to school. I would never get anywhere in this life without an education.
In August of 2000, I went back to school. Allen was working out of town, so I went 4 nights per week. I did this until I graduated with my Bachelor's degree in Business in July of 2004. It was a lot of work, but it has been worth its weight in gold.
During this journey toward obtaining my education, one of the most beautiful little boys that ever existed on this planet arrived in my life. In November of 2001, Austin Tyler Carver was placed with my Aunt Tamy (yes the one that rescued me from Alabama). She had three kids of her own, and was already overwhelmed. Austin is the son of my cousin (male) on my mother's side. Technically, Austin is my mom's great-nephew. Anyway... I feel in love with this little boy. He had the cutest red nose and chubbawubba cheeks and the biggest ears you've ever seen in your life. Allen and I always knew we wanted to have children, and we wanted to wait until we'd been married for about 5 years. However, Tamy needed our help. I was a mere 22 years old and scared out of my wits. She wanted this baby to come and be a part of our family. At this point, Austin was just a ward of the state (foster child) and there was a chance that he could come up for adoption. It took much convincing on Allen's part. He didn't know if he could love a baby that wasn't "his." Luckily, I talked him into it, and the rest is history. Austin became an official Warren on May 1, 2003. He was ours, and no one could take this beautiful baby out of our arms. Ever.
In November 2003 we were surprised to learn that we were pregnant. I was on the pill, but surprise surprise. I was scared to death and ecstatic. I was struggling trying to figure out how I was going to finish school with a newborn baby... On January 15, 2004, I miscarried this pregnancy at 11 weeks. I was devestated. My world shattered, and I swear I lost a little piece of myself with that pregnancy. I wanted that baby so much, but finally came to terms with the loss. It was very difficult. Not a day goes by that I don't think about the baby that we lost.
Much to my surprise, we learned in June of 2004 that we were expecting another baby. I was mortified. I was 8 weeks pregnant with this baby when I graduated from Gardner-Webb. We learned in October that we were going to be giving birth to our baby girl whose name we had picked out forever and and a day... Alana Marie. Her name is a compilation of mine and Allen's names. Allen's middle name is "Allen" thus Alana, and my middle name is Marie, thus her middle name..... To be continued.....