February 16, 1997 – Sunday – 1:30 a.m.

Something has happened to me.  Children of a Lesser God has changed me.  For the past month I put so much of my time in becoming James Leeds.  And in about 16 hours, it will be over.  I’ve learned so much.  Mark is such a true professional director.  He taught me the world.  He let me be an actor.  He trusted me.

There was an article in the paper, where Mark said, “Children of a Lesser God is a play about human rights, discrimination, and modern society’s reluctance to care.  Though the play focuses on the deaf culture, its ramifications can be applied to all forms of discrimination and ignorance, from racial issues to sexual orientation to religious preference.  It reveals the root of intolerance as based in the ignorance and apathy of human beings and their unwillingness to take time and energy to explore and understand an issue before they condemn its existence.”

Whew.  I don’t know how to explain it.  I seem different.  This play has matured me.  Even aged me.

Dana and Bradley came tonight, as did Dan and Allen.  They were impressed.  Strangers came up tonight and asked me how I memorized the whole show since I never left the stage.  To not only learn my lines, but to learn Sarah’s lines, as well as sign language.  I’m glad they noticed, but it didn’t seem all that hard, I just really wanted to do it and asked God to help me.

Dawn has been a delight.  To play a person who fell in love with a person she played.  No matter who I am, some version of me will always miss that time we were married on stage.

My dad came and seemed impressed, “Hard to believe that was you,” he said.

Thank you Mark Medoff for writing such a beautiful play.

It’s hard to know what I’m feeling.  Only one performance left.  Kevin is coming with the rest of the family.

So, where do I go from here?

What do I do now?

This love is leaving me.

I will be left alone with free evenings and no one to kiss.

February 13, 1997 – Thursday – 8:45 a.m.

The show opened last night.  It was a good show.  I went out into the audience afterward and a little boy came up to me.  His hands were in front of him, moving rapidly.  I realized that he was deaf and he was asking me my name.

I spelled my name out with my hands, and then I asked him his.

C-A-R-L, he spelled back.

He was really deaf.  And he was talking to me.  He was beautiful.  He instantly became so happy because the star of the show was talking to him.  Then the other deaf children saw us talking and they all came up to me.  I signed my name for them too and then signed, “Thank you for coming.”

Then one boy came up to me and spelled his name out.  It was long and he signed it very fast.  Then he touched his chest rapidly, “That’s me!” he said.  And he was so happy because I knew his name, but he did it too fast.  I didn’t get it.  And that hurt me.

All of these little kids had never heard music before.  They were real.  They weren’t actors.

They were really deaf, and they wanted to talk to me, but I just memorized my lines and a bit of the basics of sign language.  I couldn’t keep up with them.

I went into my dressing room, looked in the mirror, and cried.

February 11, 1997 – Tuesday – 10:00 a.m.

After my wonderful rehearsal last night I went to Cannon Cottage to visit Jeni, Tracey, and Ann-Marie.  I was in a good mood and had a huge smile on my face.  They thought this smile meant I knew something about a guy one of them liked and they tried the whole night to wriggle it out of me.  But I knew nothing about a guy that might like one of them. And rather than them seeing joy on my face, they took that smile and made it about themselves.  They didn’t see me.  They only wondered how I might serve them.

Then they began to talk about me and why I am alone romantically.  Tracey said it was because I am not mysterious enough.  I give everything out in the beginning and that I’m so friendly and understanding and such a great listener, that the girl has nothing else to explore, or strive for, or fix in me.

I knew this already, but the words from someone else, stating that my honesty and strong character were also a weakness, caused me to grow very silent.  I was happy, yet hurting.

Sure, I am honest.  These girls think they know me, and they do, but only to the extent that I allow them.  They know who I am to them because I manage how they perceive me, but they don’t really know me.  And I doubt they’ve ever really tried.

My honesty frightens them.  My love frightens them.  They are simply too insecure in themselves to see how honesty and selfless love can serve them in a relationship.  They would rather play mindless games, gossip about who likes who, strive for mysterious first kisses from total strangers, and get a chill down their spine than learn more truth about my spirit or what I think about when I’m alone.  They never asked me why I was smiling; they only wondered what I might know about them that they didn’t already know.

These girls think they know what they want, but they can’t even see what they really need.

They think they know me, but they have no idea how hard it is to be me.  To have a heart like mine, to have the responsibility of being the one guy who’s trying to do things the right way and to pursue honesty and truth.

But since we are being honest, let’s get really honest.  Tracey’s statement that my honesty is unattractive and scary has more to do with the fact that her boyfriend slept around on her than it has to do with me.  She’s really making excuses for herself in an effort to some how live with her pain.  Girls always take it out on me when total jerks treat them like crap; like it’s my fault that my personality and character traits are in me and not in the guy they picked.

Oh God, I feel more alone now than ever.

February 10, 1997 – Monday – 1:00 p.m.

Two days until the show opens.  Please help me God.  I can’t do this without you.

It is snowing outside.  The ground has been made white and pure.

Nate turns 12-years-old in two days.

Mark complimented me on my work ethic today at Lunch, and he’s a professional theater director from Broadway.  My journalism professor Steve, a professional from central Florida, said that I had a bigger grasp on the subject than any other student in the class.  Those who have made it, tell me I too will make it.

But my tongue grows dry.

My skin turns red.

My legs and shoulders ache.

But I do this work.  I enjoy it.  It is my passion and duty.

I tell stories.

And I’ll tell stories until I die.

February 9, 1997 – Sunday – 3:20 p.m.

The mountains are capped in snow today.  So beautiful.

Tracey, Abigail, and Jeni came over last night.  We just talked.  Jeni tells me that David doesn’t treat her the way he should.  But she is still with him.  She said that she would marry him if he asked her.  David used to be gay, I mean really gay, but he has supposedly found the Lord.  I just hope she doesn’t get hurt.

Tracey and Abigail were very funny last night.  There are little things about Tracey that I’m so attracted to, but there’s also so much about her that I don’t know.  We had fun in church this morning.  I found a piece of candy on the floor, a little valentine heart that said “Cutie Pie.”  I gave it to Tracey and she smiled brightly and kept it.

I went to visit Tracey a couple of nights ago and we went through some old pictures of hers, pictures from over two years ago when Jeni and I were still together.

Why do we grow older?  Why do we learn?

Why don’t we find our moments of total happiness and refuse to move any further?

Tracey still hurts over Derek.  Is Jeni really happy?  She doesn’t look it.  Would she really marry someone who is currently making her miserable?

Hearts are broken every day.

People are being used.

Love doesn’t exist in many places.

What about me?  What am I doing?  What do others see when they look at me?

. . .

I am not a man

I do not have gray hair

And wrinkled skin

I am not old

But my eyes are not young

. . .

I am dying.  Everything around me is dying.

Don’t go mother.  Please hold me forever.  Who are these strangers?  Why can’t I stop growing up?

I was content in your arms.  You just let me be.  Now I’m being haunted.  Am I flying, or have these strangers clipped my wings?

Do I know what love is?

Or all we still just playing games?

Oh God, why did you die for me?

I still don’t know.

February 7, 1997 – Friday – 10:30 a.m.

How different things are here at Lees-McRae than when I first arrived.  Charlie was over at Canon Cottage and I went to visit him after rehearsal last night.  I’ve known him for two and a half years now.  I think for Spring Break we’ll just go to Kate’s house in Florida again.

This place is so important to me.  Some have come and gone: Jason, Jeff, Michael, Syndi.  And others are going: Curtis and Jeni.

Life is so funny, but absolutely enjoyable.

Children of a Lesser God has become so close to me.  Dawn has become so important to me.  Or perhaps it is her character, Sarah Norman, whom I’ve grown to love.  When I am on the stage, I am in love with her.  She is so amazing.  She has this smell and I look forward to smelling it every evening.

All of the other roles I’ve played were supporting characters.  Now I am playing the leading man.  Other characters are supporting me and I’m growing dependent on them.  It will be very sad when this ends on the 16th.  It will be like losing a lover.

Mark, my director, has meant a lot to me these past few days.  He sees my growth and says people will never look at me the same after they see me in this show.

Thank you so much for this Lord.  Thank you for everything here at Lees-McRae.  I’ve never felt like I truly belonged some place until you brought me here.

My dad might come, as well as Kevin, Mom, Henry, and Nate.

I don’t deserve this love.

Fifteen months remain until the new storm blows me away.

Please don’t let it come too quickly Lord.

If I am to move to Virginia Beach, then please prepare that place for me.

I give you my life Lord.

I give you everything.

February 6, 1997 – Thursday – 10:40 a.m.

 

I am a boy

I have blonde hair

And a crooked chin

I am tall

But my patience is short

I like eagles

I like the color green

And to watch movies

I am skinny

But my memory is fat

I dream of flying

I dream of freedom in my soul

And of love

I write a lot

But I am the only one who reads them

I am an actor

I make good grades

And I like to read my Bible

I like to laugh

But I learn more from sadness

I keep a journal

I keep a Book of Days

And a collection of pictures

I want to tell stories

But I don’t even understand my own