May 20, 1997 – Tuesday – 3:00 p.m.

Please, take a moment and close this book.  Walk outside and breathe in the air of your own lifetime.  Take a minute just to say thanks to God.

Why have you taken the time to read about my life?  Thanks for reading, but please do yourself a favor and write about your own.  I often thought I was writing to some future strangers or to my future self, but no, this is all for me; for me right now.  These notebooks simply help me see the magic, pain, and beauty all around me.

Tenielle came to church on Sunday night.  It was nice to see her, but she is different.  She pierced her bellybutton; doesn’t surprise me.  Marcus was there as well as Megan.  Megan is engaged to Brad, a guy I graduated with.  I told Megan and Marcus how good it was to see someone here from the original group.  They both agreed.

We had a little fellowship for a newly wed couple named Dorothy and Vernon.  I sat next to little Anita, an 11-year-old girl I’ve seen grow up from the age of 3.  Marcus and I drove home together.

I got my wisdom teeth pulled out on Monday.  I slept all afternoon, so I was unable to sleep last night.  I listened to the radio all night.  The female DJ invited anyone who wanted to call at 4:00 a.m. to feel free.  I did, simply to let her know that I was wide awake and had been listening to her all night long.  So, I was on the radio earlier this morning; cool, I guess.

I’m writing some Vacation Bible School skits for Heaton Christian Church this morning.  I called the church to get some information.  Jaime told me that the doctors found a tumor in Josh’s skull near a gland.  They believe this is what has stunted his growth all these years.  He had surgery yesterday to get it removed.  The surgery took 7-8 hours.  They said he was okay and Charlie went down to be with him.  I wonder if this means he’ll finally go through puberty.

Oh man, puberty around college girls?  That’s a recipe for disaster.

May 17, 1997 – Saturday – 10:08 p.m.

Today…

Today…

Today was the annual nationwide March For Jesus.  This was my first one that I’ve ever attended.  I had a wonderful time singing praises with fellow Christians as we walked the streets of Sanford.  I saw Gary there.  We talked a little and he told me that there was a big party at Kiwanis Park for Matt, Christi’s brother, who had just graduated from Catawba College in Salisbury, NC.  He said that both Matt and Jason were in town.  So, after the March was over I asked mom if we could stop by to see if they were there and say “hey.”  We did.

A car was in the driveway with the trunk open.  The front door was standing wide open.  We pulled up and I got out of the car and Jason runs out of the house.  His hands were waving around and he wasn’t really looking at us.  Frantically, he said, “Oh geez, oh geez, oh God, oh my God.  Mom and Christi and Andy and his girlfriend just got in a car accident.  They are three hours away from here.  And they’re burned!

It took a second for it to register, but then it all made sense when he just plopped down on the steps and cried.  He was in the middle of changing tires on the car out front because he and Matt were going on a fishing trip on the coast.  So, Clay took Jason to find his dad and Matt at the bank downtown.  Mom and I stayed there and prayed.

A few minutes later, Matt pulled up with Pastor Steve’s wife Nancy.  She said she found him walking on the side of the road because their car broke down at the bank.  We told Matt what happened and he went nuts.  Except he said Andy was in Wilmington and Christi and her mom were going to the mountains and Andy doesn’t even have a girlfriend.  Jason’s muttering made no sense.

Hours of confusion took place.  Phone calls were made.  Hank finally made it home and the emotions went wild because no one knew what was going on.

This is what actually happened:

Christi and her mom Patti and Christi’s boyfriend Adam were going to western North Carolina to say goodbye to Christi’s old gym coach.  Patti was taking off Christi’s shoes while Christi was driving, yet at the same time, they were looking at a pretty mountain.  A bump is felt and Christi shouts out an “oops” as she swerves back to the road.  Yet, the beginning of a guard rail is right in front of her and it catches the gas tank near the rear of the car.  It rips it off and flips the car at the same time.  They head straight into the other lane, thankfully there wasn’t any oncoming traffic.  They come to a stop on the other side of the road and the car bursts into flames.  The three shocked passengers crawl out of the car.

Jason got off the phone with the hospital 30 seconds before we drove up.  Matt, Hank, Gary, and Adam’s mom drove up to the mountains to be with them.  I stayed with Jason until my parents picked me up for a church service at 5:30 p.m.

Christi was burned the worst of all three, but nobody should be left with permanent scars.

And that was today.

Today…

No doubt Christi and Adam’s relationship will grow stronger through this shared drama. They’re love is as good as forever.

It’s a week before I go back to the mountains.  I will so go to my perfect world of Banner Elk.  Yet here, the people of my days before LMC are either pregnant, nicotine addicts, or burned.

And I will leave them that way, knowing my prayers and never ending love will be with them.

I am a little blonde-haired boy, lying in my bed on a school day, only I’m too young to attend.  “Why can’t I go, mommy?”

“You have to wait another year until you’re old enough,” she says.

She should have said, “Oh sweetie, don’t rush things.  Enjoy these careless days while they are around.  Soon your closest friends will be in pain and there won’t be any answers to the flames life brings.  Please, stay a child while you can be a child.”

May 15, 1997 – Thursday – 10:15 p.m.

I am in Atlanta, Georgia.  Life sure is a funny thing.

We went to the revival in Pensacola at Brownsville Assembly last night, but for some reason they weren’t having a service on that Wednesday night, so I came back and watched a little TV.  I watched the series finale of Coach; it was very good.

We left this morning.  Ryan cried.  I don’t know what Curtis sees in that girl.  But I’m not sure I want to know.  Life is easier when you don’t understand everything.

The drive was hot and we passed by that bridge in Chambers County, Alabama where Marcus and I broke down in August of 1995.  I spent so many hours of hope and worry under that bridge.  Part of me will be trapped there forever.

Carla came over here tonight and we went out to eat.  She’s such a pretty girl.  I don’t know why Curtis treats her so badly.  Well, we had a nice talk.  We talked about city life versus country life.  I’m so glad I got to see her.

This trip has made me appreciate the home I have in Banner Elk.  It’s like I’m the king of the world there.  I can’t seem to go wrong there.  But I have only one year left.

I really miss Jessica.  She is just so simple.  She’s so fun and easy to get along with.  She makes so much sense to me.

I’ve grown too old.  I long to be young again.  I long to be childlike.  I want to find joy in simplicity.  I want to smile at each new step and each new second.

I am lying down on a foldout sofa in a home office on Cartsworth Circle in a suburb of Atlanta, Georgia.

How in the world did little me, a blonde baby boy who learned to crawl, walk, and talk in Germany, but learned of life and love in North Carolina, ever end up here?

May 14, 1997 – Wednesday – 8:49 a.m.

Our meeting was good.

She had a meeting at 5:00 p.m., so we went to the beach and talked for nearly four hours.  She looked great.  She told me about her world and her problems.  She told me how much she hates her dad, how her and Brandon are back together, and how much he wanted to meet me.  Perhaps he doesn’t remember me from before.  We had a good talk.  Talking and writing is all we know how to do.  We have given up the romance and focused on our needed friendship.

I told her about Abigail, Jeni, and Jessica.  She told me about this world and I’m very glad that I live in a secluded little village in the mountains.  Emily has changed over the years.  Her focus on life is different.  All of the death around her has changed her.  I liked her better three years ago, but I love her so much more now.

This story of mine.

And Emily is another girl.

Just one of the many.

But I could not exist without her.

And I don’t know why.

May 12, 1997 – Monday – 6:00 p.m.

I called her at 3:00 p.m.  She sounded so good.  She is gonna meet me here tomorrow at 1:30 p.m.  We’ll spend the remainder of the day together.

I’m excited.  I’m nervous.

Emily.

Nearly four years.

I had no idea that the beautiful girl who walked across my campsite to take her little cousin to the bathroom would mean so much to me.

What a mystery this has been!

Will this ever be solved?

May 12, 1997 – Monday – 1:30 p.m.

Here I am.

Alone with a cat named Panda in a studio apartment in Fort Walton Beach, FL.  Curtis and Ryan are out.  I stayed behind.

Thirty miles to the north of me in the town of Crestview is a high school girl; a tall senior with blonde hair sitting in a classroom.  I wonder if she is thinking of the tall blonde college senior that is 30 miles below her.

We met nearly three years and 11 months ago.

June 13, 1993.

May 12, 1997.

I will attempt to call her this afternoon.

Who is she to me God?

What did you give her to me for?  Is she just another name in my collection or is she more?  Did you know this would happen?  You had two red lights meet.  Now it seems we can’t say goodbye or let go.

If we see each other, today or tomorrow or whenever, please be with us God.  Let your Holy Spirit guide us.  Let me know what to say and what to do.  Lead me God.  You did this.  Please continue to have your hand on this matter.

Thank you and I love you.

May 12, 1997 – Monday – 10:11 a.m.

After we moved Ryan in on Saturday, we went to see Austin Powers.  It was pretty funny.  Ryan cooked dinner that night.  She is trying to get Curtis to stay down here with her, but his mom wants him in Atlanta.

On Sunday we went to a nearby church, we went to the beach, and I went to see The Devil’s Own, a wonderful movie; the best I’ve seen all year.  We then ate at Applebee’s that night.

I’m having a fun time down here, but Ryan is simply annoying.  I don’t know how Curtis can stand her.  I can’t believe he chooses her over Carla.  Oh well.

Other than that, everything is peaceful.  The beach is wonderful.  Curtis is hilarious.  And God is good.