I Can and I Will II

I graduated May 2007, moved to San Antonio that graduation weekend, and was married June 9, 2007. It’s really crazy to think about that time in my life without having a “what were you thinking?’ Edward James Olmos as Abraham Quintanilla in the Selena movie moment.

I moved to San Antonio with nothing with someone who also had nothing. We were living in his parents’ house, he didn’t have a job, and I’ve never had a job. We were driving an old car (for perspective, it actually broke down on our way to SA) that his parents had let him borrow. He was trying to find a job, but was not successful, and we survived from the bit of money we received as wedding presents. I cannot recall exactly what happened, but in July he got into an argument with his mom (probably because he hadn’t found a job yet and we were mooching, I do recall being told I used too much toilet paper amongst other things), so we packed our things and headed back to Fort Worth to live with my dad.

I did not know how to drive, but I knew how to take the bus, and having grown up in FTW, I was very familiar with the area and was able to get my first job at the Family Dollar on Lancaster. This is definitely not the place you want to be, so I promptly enrolled to start classes at Tarrant Community College (TCC). I qualified for the Pell Grant, which was more than sufficient to cover tuition and books.

I’m going to take a moment and get on my soap box to say that community college is so worth it! I know it is not the typical college experience, but it is a very good way to transition into a university, especially for kids that did not go to the best schools because universities can be really overwhelming. Many of the professors I had at community college were simultaneously teaching at a university, meaning the quality of lectures is the same, with the added bonus of smaller class sizes in a community college. I remember my first semester at UTSA I enrolled in General Chemistry II and the class was easily over 100 students, there is no way the professor knew who I was and he was not approachable. If I needed help or had questions, I had to go to the teaching assistant office hours. After that experience, I decided to take all my remaining non-geology science classes at a community college because the expertise is the same, sometimes even better, and the ability to have a conversation in class with the professors was priceless. Not to mention that taking that one chemistry class at UTSA cost as much as taking a full semester (4 classes) at community college! I had zero student debt going into UTSA, but post UTSA I’m feeling like I’m never going to get rid of the student debt I accumulated, ask me how many times I went to a football game?! That’s right, none, but I sure did have to pay fees for having a team…I can go on forever about higher education, but I won’t today, the point I’m making is that there is no shame in  community college, in my opinion, its actually the smarter way to start.

I forgot to mention that when we came back to Fort Worth, we no longer had the car his parents had let him borrow. His brother had given us a ride to Fort Worth and here we used and eventually purchased my dad’s archaic 1980- something dodge ram. He found a job working at a halfway house, which he seemed to enjoy for the whole 6 months he worked there.

I remember the day he quit, it was the day they held the first Mardi Gras parade in Dallas in 2008. We had gone to dinner at Razzoo’s in downtown Fort Worth with my brother and sister-in-law; he was supposed to go to work that evening, but instead decided to do a no call no show so that we could take the TRE to Dallas and go to the parade. I was not and will never be okay with this, I am very loyal to any job I hold and it’s like pulling teeth trying to get me to call in, it doesn’t happen, I almost never call in. This was the beginning of a never ending cycle of finding a job and quitting a job at a moment’s notice, with no prospects ahead.

This was in February, which means I was in my second semester at TCC. We had used the left over money from the Pell Grant of my spring semester to put a down payment on a PT Cruiser from CarMax. He got a job at Best Maid Pickles, a job he actually also had while we were dating before he left to San Antonio, but he didn’t last a month.

One day when I got home from school/work he told me he was ready to go back to San Antonio, I didn’t understand why until my dad knocked on our door and apologized. I guess while I wasn’t home, he and my dad had been in argument, I didn’t get an explanation as to what happened, but he no longer wanted to be at my parent’s house. Obviously, I didn’t want to leave, I was in the middle of a semester, not even the middle, I was almost done with the semester and I did have a job. Despite not wanting to, I found myself at TCC crying while withdrawing from my classes and walking to the bookstore to try and sell my books back, but they did not buyback books in the middle of the semester. We could have waited so I could finish the semester, what difference would one more month make, but he wasn’t having it, and he was my husband.

I hated him, here I was again, doing what I didn’t want to do for him. I was humiliated, how could he be okay seeing me sob while walking across TCC giving up on my dreams. I know giving up on my dreams sounds dramatic, but I truly felt that way. The reason I really started sobbing was because when I went to withdraw, they informed me that because I didn’t finish the semester and it was paid by the grant, that I would owe money back to the school. Not only was I quitting school, but I was adding the obstacle of a debt I would have to pay before I could enroll back in any school.

This is the TCC transfer section of my transcript. My first semester I got two A’s and two B’s; the second semester was the first and only time I ever withdrew from classes, those Ws always pushed me to try my hardest even in the most impossible classes, I was determined to never quit again.

I know I must sound super crazy being with this guy (and this is only the beginning), but he was charismatic and loving and knew exactly what to do to always get me to come back to him. Looking back I can say he was manipulative, but that Nancy didn’t see it that way.

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