I wanted to go to Nashville. I wanted to go to Atlanta. I really wanted to go to Mobile. Perhaps I could go to Knoxville. Or maybe Savannah. Best laid plans work out, sometimes... and sometimes, they don't.
As much as I'd like to say that it was fate that led me here, or that it was chance, or a job, or something else, I really have to put the blame on two entities in my life... God and Amy Wible. I thought Birmingham was terrible. It was a big, convoluted city, comprised of about two dozen small towns crammed together to make one big metropolis. I didn't want to be here. But I kept feeling it. And finally, about a month before the move, I was driving down I-65... actually in Birmingham, for some reason, and it just clicked. I nodded my head, and said, "Okay, God. I'll do it. This is what You want, and I guess I'll have to comply."
Here's what I wrote, in an essay called "A Love Story In Three Acts", and this was Act Two, Scene Two. (for the whole thing from the beginning, you can click here... its quite a great story, methinks).
June passes and July is almost over. Though I really, really want to go to Mobile, I feel God is calling me to Birmingham. I'm fighting it in my prayerlife, not wanting to admit this is what God wants for me, even though it was pretty evident, since none of my interviews in Mobile was going to lead to anything. Through some random conversation with Amy, I mention a possible move to Birmingham, possibly working for this new Christian station starting up called Reality Radio 101.1. She tells me how great that would be, because with her in Tuscaloosa, I'd only be 45 minutes away, not two hours, and how great it would be dating the DJ for a Christian radio station. Much like God led me to Christian drama through Chrissy, God finally sealed the deal with me for Birmingham through Amy. --July 7, 2006
So, randomly, Claire Baldwin and I drove up to Birmingham to find me an apartment, and I managed to find a small, two bedroom loft apartment for only $475 per month. I'm imagining this apartment's rent has gone up slightly. Anyway, I paid the deposit, and was excited to finally move!
So, on August 17th, 1998, Shelby Logan, Eddie Hamner, Troy McConnell, Allyson Guy and a select few others helped me load up the vehicle(s), drive to Birmingham, unload the stuff, drive BACK to Troy, then drive back to Birmingham to unload the rest of it. My friends rocked. They still do. Allyson, I still miss you, friend...
Anyway, they stayed the night, Eddie and Troy at the Loft, the girls at Allyson's home in Alabaster, and they left early the next morning. And... I was alone. It was hard for the first few months... the job that I thought would be my ticket here in Birmingham ended up being a disaster, after a week....
And that led me to the Adecco Temp Agency, where I met a temp consultant named George Marling, who, after hearing I had just moved to Birmingham, said, "Have you found a church yet? (I nodded my head no) Well, here... (setting down a green pen in front of me)... this is my church. Valleydale Baptist. You should give them a call. You might like it."
I tried it a few times over the course of the next few months... and liked it. I was officially baptized in January of 1999, and for the first time in my life, I became a church member. Several of my closest friends--Troy, Allyson, Shelby, AmyAlex, Melanie, etc--were there, and it was amazing.
I still didnt have a lot of local friends, though, as I made frequent weekend trips to Troy, staying with Joey Hinton and Tad Roose (whom I know I annoyed after a while, crashing on their couch...), but I did have one friend that I grew close too... a chick in my singles class, Rebecca Jourdan.
I met her not only at Valleydale Baptist Church, but also figured out we worked together at Parisian Corporate, the job I took after being hired on through Adecco. She was five or six years older, but so darn good looking. In October of 1998, I had my wisdom teeth removed, and Rebecca volunteered to take me to the dentist, wait for me, and drive me home. It's important to note that I had quite a crush on Rebecca at that time, so when she took me, full of drugs and gauze, home, and helped me to my couch, I vaguely remember expressing my true devotion to her, and I vaguely remember her smiling.
Not too long after that, early 1999, I was hanging out with the high schoolers and Big Eddy Mac, and Downtown Jerry Brown at the house across from the church, when I met the high school intern, Tom Johnson. It felt like a "Anakin... this is Obi Wan Kenobi" kind of moment. Unbeknownst to the church, but beknowst to many of us, Tom was liking this chick named Stephanie Nipp.
It was at a party that I first heard about Michael Nipp, who went to school in North Alabama, and was managing a band called Soul Pilot. His parents told me that I should meet him, and not too long after that I did. And it was Michael who took me to Sybil Johnson's Bible Study, where I met Meredith Quintana, Shawn Sharp, Jill Berthon, Amy Valdmanis, Jennifer Pritchett, Ty Coffey and so many more, people who would add to the backbone of influence already given by Troy, AmyAlex, Shelby, Claire, the BCM, Cristie Wright, Chrissy and so many more.
Michael and Tom decided to move in together... they invited me along. I jumped at the chance. So for the summer, it was Michael in one room, Tom in the other, and me on the couch of our apartment in Pinebrook, on Little Valley Road. When September came, Tom moved to Samford, I moved into Tom's room, and Shawn Sharp moved into Michael's room, with Michael still there. When Christmas rolled around (and we had our first Apartment party, a precursor to big parties to come) Tom moved to the couch. It was here that I met Tommy McLeod, mostly because I came home one night and he was randomly sitting on our couch, watching tv. I'm not sure Mikey was even there, or if he was, he might have been asleep.
And then... one day in May, Michael came home and said, "Hey Dave... I found this four bedroom apartment not too far from here, over behind Ellis Piano. What do you think?" And so it was. The Deuce was born. The legend was made. Common Ground was born not too long after that.
Passion One Day was in May of 2000. Incredible event. Will never forget it, or the fact I spent a month going out with Jill Berthon.
My dad passed away in 2000... it was a devestating blow to me in so many ways. The hardest part was that I didn't cry at the funeral. I had so many mixed emotions. And I remember, a week later at Thursday night Bible study, when Nathan Tutor was teaching, we were in prayer... and I just fell apart. It was terrible, and yet, wonderful. I remember Ty Coffey putting his hands on my feet, and Amy Valdmanis and Meredith Quintana both leaning over and touching me while we prayed. It was beautiful.
Speaking of beautiful, Wookiee, Yours Truly, Michael, Shawn, Tom, Jennifer Hudson, Tommy, Brook DeRamus (our downstairs neighbor--he was an oceanographer who spent alot of time in Mobile, so we didn't see much of him), Matt Latta, David Mark Osborne and Daniel Powell started this football game... we called it The Deuce Football Championships, or The DFC, for short. We figured we'd do it this year, and just have fun... I mean, who expects this to go past a single football season?
I let go of Amy Wible in 2001. The closure wasn't there, at least all the way, but it was finally over. My heart begun to heal... and I had already been introduced to Stephanie Campbell. That was a saga over the next two years I won't recount fully, but during such time, The Deuce lived, survived, and stayed strong. I witnessed Stephanie Nipp break up with Tom, which was rough on all of us. We watched Ginger and Matt get married, which was blessed on all of us.
I started a new job in May of 2001, hired away from Parisian to Cox Radio, to work with 106.9 Oldies, WZZK and Rock 97.3. I met Michelle Carr, who would quickly become one of my heroes. Plus, she's a great chick.
WalkAbout was going strong too... started in 1999, it had begun to be a major part of my life, as it is now. And in 2001, the first ever WalkAbout dinner theater was presented, starring Meredith Osborne, Andrea Brobst and Katie Noland, among others. Sometime around 3 in the morning, on July 4th, I also had my first kiss with Stephanie Campbell. She was, and still is, fantastic.
September 11th happened. It was tough on everyone, as we all sat mesmorized by the footage. I wrote about it here (part one) and here (part two), and then again in 2006, here and here.
In 2002, we knew The Deuce was bigger than itself when I came home to find Mikey sitting on the couch, watching tv... nothing unusual here, except for the five or six Samford students sitting around the kitchen table, playing cards. "Dude, who are they?" I whispered to Mikey, sitting down beside him. "I dunno... I thought you knew them..." he replied.
I went out with Amy Vos once, on a single date. Seriously, she was just so awesome. I was quite disappointed, at that time, that things didnt lead to a second date, though I look back and see all the things going on at that time in both of our lives was truly God making sure she would end up with Tommy... a relationship I saw born in and around The Deuce, just like I had seen Justin and Jennifer's relationship born in a conversation on The Deuce floor.
My friendship with Melanie Dill grew, and then, over the course of the summer, faded, just like my friendship with Allyson had done a few years go. My friendship with Stephanie was still there, though. I went on the toughest mission trip ever, to NYC, with Melanie, Alex, Fish, Liz, Chad, Mark and several others. And when I came back, my head was spinning. I sat down with the guys during our weekly Bible study, and said, "Um... I think I'm going to go out with Stephanie Campbell. Like, seriously, chase her. This is what I'm supposed to do."
Once the meeting was over, I was in my room, and Michael came in, closing the door behind him. He told me how happy he was about me and Stephanie. He told me that he had been praying for us, how he had--and all the other guys--had been hoping that something like this would happen. And it did. Tom had already started dating Jill Berthon, Tommy and Amy were together, Michael had already met Ashley O'Neal, Justin and Jennifer were going to be together forever by now, and somehow, it was my turn.
Our final Deuce Christmas bash was in December 2002... it was a grand gala, complete with performances by Ben Caver and Joel Blount, and we had an attendance of over 70 people. This success was truly why we never planned a DeuceFest Eye Vee (IV) or a Christmas bash in 2003... I actually didn't want to face the idea that we might not have that many people come. The Deuce was beginning its slow decline, a graceful, gentle drop. We knew when to stop, and we did.
February of 2003 is when the Challenger exploded. It was also my very first day on the job at Starbucks. I was hanging out with Katy Scott, one of my favorite people ever, and a possible first ballot Dave Hall of Famer (when I finally open the doors) and we were at Starbucks in Mountain Brook. Her friend Kerry Walls was working, and being d$, I had to admire that Kerry was really quite cute. Kerry says, "You should apply for the new store... in Vestavia!" So I did.
I worked four nights per week, for over a year, earning money for debt, comic books, a possible proposal, and more. April 2003 found me in kinda hot water, though... I had an expired license. And a ticket from 2000 that I somehow forgot about. No, I'm serious, I actually forgot about it... and the officer who pulled me over for the tag reminded me.
Mind you, I am headed to work at Starbucks. I get pulled over, then quickly arrested and put into the back of a police car. Randomly, Ty, Mikey, Wookiee and Tom are leaving together, and pass by, only to see me on the side of the road in the backseat of a police car. No kidding, the officer looked like Eddie George, and I told him so. For the next twenty minutes, I sat in the back of a car, handcuffed, talking through an open window to the arresting officer about the Titans chances that fall.
Yes, yes, I was taken to the station, fingerprinted, and booked. I never saw the inside of the cell, though, as the Dolla' Posse, made up of several of the guys, bailed me out quickly. Laughing. I went to work, ink still on my hands. Boy, I learned alot from my time in prison. Don't drop the soap.
Summer came, and I was able to save up enough for a ring, to which I quietly and unceremoniously gave to The Lovely Steph Leann. And now we planned for a wedding, while attending Tommy's and Amy's in the fall. Wookiee was now engaged. Tom was now engaged as well. Mikey and Ashley were heading that way.
And this is where we'll leave it... a quick recap of the first five years in Birmingham, with the next five to come later... Sunday, August 17th, 2008 celebrates 10 years in the city, after a plan of only being here 1 to 3 years somehow doesn't work out like I planned.