December 19, 1995 – Tuesday – 12:05 p.m.

I’m not home.

I’m in Siler City.

Mom and Henry enjoyed the show.  I didn’t want to leave, but I had to.

I arrived here late Sunday night.  Marcus and Kevin were here.  We stayed up late and talked a lot.  They are okay.  Mike came over Monday; we played cards.  He grew a goatee.  It looks good.  There was a Total Man Forum meeting last night.  Kevin and Marcus and I went to it.  It was nice.  Afterward, I went by to visit with Jason and Christi and the rest of their family.  We played some games.  Every one of the siblings is seeing someone.  Even Christi.  Some guy named Adam.  I stayed maybe 30 minutes and then I left.

On the way home I took Cotton Rd.  That is where Ryan used to live.  It’s been a long time.  On the way home, I also drove by my old high school and elementary school.

Things have not changed here at the house.  Now that Kevin and I are gone, Mom and Henry only heat two rooms in the house, the rest of the house is colder than Banner Elk has ever gotten.  So, Kevin and I sleep in the living room.  Henry complains that we make the living room a mess, yet he will not heat the rest of the house.  It’s the same old story.

In answer to the question I posed earlier:  I do not believe Laura dreams of me.  And I wouldn’t know what to do if  she did.  She was at both services Sunday, but she did not say a word to me.  Melissa, however, seems to say “thank you” every time she says “hello.”

I miss Lees-McRae and Heaton already.

I miss the confidence I found in Emily.

It’s hard to know what is true.  I love this place, but at the same time I can’t stand it.

Who am I?

Where is she?

Sometimes I feel like a motherless child; a long, long way from my home.

December 17, 1995 – Sunday – 1:52 p.m.

For the third morning in a row, I woke up in this wonderful house.  Church was really fun as usual.  A lot of people complemented me on the performance of Christmas Comes to Long Star Gulch last night.  Not only did I direct, but I played the lead as well.

During the service, I sat in front of Melissa.  She seemed down and lonely. There is a part of the service in which people greet one another.  I turned around and hugged Melissa and said, “Vince wanted me to tell you Merry Christmas.”  Her face it up and a breath of teary, joyful relief burst from her body.  She smiled.  She seemed so beautiful and innocent.  I’ve never seen Melissa that way before.

Perhaps I am helping these two souls.  And perhaps at the same time, I am, unknowingly, helping myself.

Lees-McRae College has taken me many places.  Heaton, Cincinnati, Albany, and now…Lone Star Gulch.

December 16, 1995 – Saturday – 11:30 p.m.

Our opening night was tonight.

Our last performance is tomorrow night.

The show went really well.  The place was packed and everyone complemented me.

We had rehearsal this morning and then I went with Sharon, Hannah, and Megan to Boone where we went shopping, ate lunch, and saw Toy Story.  I had the greatest time.  Sharon is really nice and she tells me all the time how wonderful a Christian I am and how much I mean to her and other people.  Hannah and Megan were so much fun.  Just two little 10-year-olds without a care in the world.

Afterwards, when I came back here and had dinner with Crystal and Leslie, we went to the show and had a wonderful time performing.  When the show was over, Crystal and Leslie and I played cards up here in Clifton’s room.  They were goofing around and simply being free.  It amazed me.

I mean look at today.

Me, a lanky little boy who grew up in a crossroads called Mt. Vernon Springs, came to this mountain community knowing nothing nor anyone.

And now, in a year and a half’s time, I have found a home.

I feel very comfortable in this house.  I feel so comfortable over at Sharon’s house, and Marty and Stan’s house.

A whole church who backed me up to help me create a marvelous little show.

Before the show started tonight, I recognized about ten people who helped me with this production.  At the end, Pastor Jim said that I mentioned a lot of people but I forgot to mention myself.  So, he did it for me and everyone clapped.

I have come so far.

My mother, stepfather, and Nate come tomorrow.  Kevin cannot make it.  He has an appointment with Pastor Steve about Tenielle, John, and himself.  I talked to him today.

So, about 24 hours from now, I will travel away to a new and different world.  I pray that the Lord use me there to heal some broken hearts.  I can’t wait to see Mike and try to find Jonathan.

A new and old adventure awaits.

December 15, 1995 – Friday – 12:08 p.m.

Ten days until Christmas.

I am at Crystal and Clifton’s house now.  I got here around 4:00 p.m. yesterday.  We decorated the Christmas tree, then went to the rehearsal at church.  Clifton and I played cards before we went to sleep.  It was like spending the night at a friend’s house.

I slept really well.  I had a weird dream that I was walking alone along the abandoned country roads of Bear Creek, North Carolina.  A car pulled up beside me and in the car were Scott and Shirley and a grown up Veronica.  They told me they were riding around looking for colleges that Veronica might attend.

Then my dream ended.

I talked to Sharon last night as she came to pick Hannah up from rehearsal.  She said that Melissa had a really good time with Vince and was a little sad because she wasn’t going to see him again for 23 days.

She said 23 days.

She counted them.

She counted the days until Vince would return.

That seemed so beautiful and innocent to me.  I wished I had someone I could count the days down to.

This morning, after I took a shower and ate a bowel of cereal while everyone was gone, I watched Apollo 13; I enjoyed it much better the second time.

It felt weird this morning as I walked around in the kitchen, my bare feet touching the cold tile floor.  It reminded me of my home in Siler City.  The tile floor on the second floor of McAlister Hall is always warm.

Which reminds me…my third semester at Lees-McRae College is officially over.  I remember that after my second semester I said that my two best nights were the nights in which I first talked to Emily over the phone and the night in which I held Syndi under the waterfall.

By the way, Syndi has gone back to Tampa.  She is not returning next semester.  I will probably never see her again.

For my first semester I would have to say that one of my best nights was when I was in Cincinnati with Jeni on top of a hill overlooking the city and seeing a bright red moon hovering over the city lights.

Now, for my third semester, I would have to say that my two greatest nights were when Dan, Allen, and I went hiking one evening on the other side of Grandfather Mountain.  It was really warm, my hair was long and blowing in the wind.  I could see so far.  There were huge rocks all around us.  I kept on saying, “I’m flying!  I’m free!”

The other best night would have to be this past Wednesday evening as Vince and I, plus Sharon’s three beautiful daughters, Melissa, Laura, and Hannah, took a walk down a wintry trail to their little cottage hidden in the woods.  While walking down there with Laura next to me, I dreamt of a summer of ’96 in this beloved land and how I would always go up to visit Laura, and she would come down to visit me.  We would sit out and watch the beautiful sunsets together.

I dreamt of warm weather.

I dreamt of her.

I still dream of her.

A young girl of sixteen whose mother will only let drive to Ingles and Eckerd Drug.

I remember being 16.  So long ago.  I remember three years ago as I tried to put a Christmas show together at my old church.  It fell through.  It didn’t happen.

But now, three years later, I attempted to do it again, in another land with different people and different children.  And it is happening.  It came together.

It opens tomorrow night.

Back in Siler City, I dreamed Winter Dreams.

But here in Banner Elk, they come true.

In a few days I will say goodbye for a short while and return to a place and say hello to many I said goodbye to long ago.  Only to say goodbye again and return here to say hello.

That is what life consists of.

Hellos and goodbyes.

But in between each one, there is laughter, there are tears, there are smiles, there are special unique moments that make my life so beautiful.

Laura?  Do you dream of me?

December 14, 1995 – Thursday – 1:20 a.m.

My final monologue for Diction class went well today.  All of my final exams are now over.

The semester is over.

Vince and I went over to Sharon’s at around 4:00 p.m.  Melissa and Vince got to talk some.  Laura and I helped Sharon cook dinner.  It was really fun.  We talked a lot during dinner.  Laura was so much fun.  She has such a funny side to her that I have not seen until tonight.  She almost reminds me of Marcus.  And she looked simply amazing tonight.

Church time came and Laura and Hannah and I went.  Rehearsal went okay.  I’m excited about the show.  Then we rented a movie and watched it after church.  And then Vince and I came home, but that isn’t all that happened.  Something new appeared.

While cooking dinner, I mentioned to Sharon that I am going to stay up here this summer and might need a place to stay if she knew of anything.  It turns out that they own a little cottage on their land off down the hillside and deeper into the woods.  Laura, Hannah, Melissa, and Vince and I took a little walk out to it.  It was, quite simply, the most beautiful piece of property I have ever seen.  There was a sign out front that said “Snowflake Inn.”  It was right next to a little stream, and snug up against the hill side.  Trees were all around.  It was absolutely gorgeous; like a fairy tale.

It was a little icy as we walked along the trail.  Laura was in front of me and she slipped and grabbed my hand.

There is a chance I might stay there this summer.  In my own little cottage, yet right next to Laura’s house.

Please Father, let it happen.

After we got back to the college, I took a little walk simply to pray.  While out there, I saw two shooting stars.  The Lord and I had a wonderful time.

Things are going to be alright.

I am going to pick up my life and hand it to God.

Thank you for tonight Father.

I couldn’t imagine a more perfect evening.

December 12, 1995 – Tuesday – 9:00 p.m.

I just got finished with my Make-up exam.  I made vince an old Chinese guy.  It was really fun.  He looked really different.

I am on duty tonight.  I have a hunch that my PA and RA situations are causing a problem.  My duty nights are Tuesday and I have one weekend a month.  But Performing Arts interferes with that, and there are times when I have to put Residence Life to the side.  Charlie told me tonight that they are going to talk to me about it.  I hope I can still do both.

Sharon called me tonight and invited Vince and I over tomorrow.  That will be fun.

My brother and my mom called me up today.  Kevin is home.  They are going to come up Sunday to see the show and take me home.  A week later I will visit Virginia for a day and then stay in Siler City until January 4th.

A very short vacation.  A new semester will begin, perhaps new stories.

I am all alone.

I have a monologue I need to write out phonetically so I will sit here and do that in my perfect solitude.

Praise you Jesus.

Thank you for making me strong.

And thank you for the beautiful snow today.

December 11, 1995 – Monday – 1:30 p.m.

Jacob

What a price we paid for experience

For we lost our touch

To buy it.

I miss you.  Maybe I represented someone to end your loneliness, but how can I accompany you when all we have is ink?  Jacob, if you have never listened to me, hear me now…

You are beautiful,

Everything about you is…

beautiful.

You have no reason to be sad.  Pick up your life.  Remember that when the frost comes and you look out your window, that you are on a journey.  Your prize will be at the end and you have only begun.  Don’t worry about the little things.  God has a plan for you.  The other things will come.  Just trust him and yourself.

It sounds to me like you need to do some soul searching.  Remember that you are loved.  If I disappointed you, I am sorry.

But I miss you.

Jacob, you are beautiful in every way.

 

This is what I received in the mail today.  There was a beautiful named signed at the bottom, but there is no need to write it here.  If you are reading these collections of hearts and thoughts, then you already know whose hand wrote these beautiful words.

Life has been rough for me recently.  But this letter has helped.  She is so right.  I do need to do some soul searching.

Finally, I have been held tighter than I was on March 26, 1995.  And it was by the same girl.

What a price we have paid to try and find something more solid than paper, more readable than ink.

Will I ever find anything more valuable than a piece of paper we have both touched?  That is who we truly are to each other.  It is who we will continue to be.

Her written and spoken words over the past two and a half years have changed me.

Am I really beautiful?

Could I be?

Frost was on my window this morning.  It is so cold outside.

What prize will be at the end?  I do this; I play this game…but why?

Lonely

Reaching

Searching

Knowing

Loving

Caring

Somewhere

Lonely

Reaching

Searching

Knowing

Loving

Caring

Soaring Somewhere

December 9, 1995 – Saturday – 11:58 p.m.

Thursday night, my Acting I class ate over at Mr. Taylor’s house.  I had to leave early since I had rehearsal.  He lives up on Faculty Hill, on the other side of Elk River, so I had to run all the way in order to get to the theater in time.  I didn’t realize it, but it was below freezing and the mist from the waterfall had covered the metal bridge over Elk River with a thin sheet of ice.  I was running super fast and once I hit that bridge, I was flat on my side and busted up my knee really bad.  It hurt so much.  I was wailing in pain, but no body was around, and I limped the whole way up that steep hillside.

Friday night, we went to Marty and Stan’s house and had a Chinese Christmas party.  It was a blast.  I got a neat little book.

I took my English and Lighting final exams today.  They went well.  Tonight, Vince and I went over to Rachel’s room and the two of us plus Becky watched Hook.

That is probably the last time I will see Becky.

Goodbye.

As always, I feel really lonely.  There is still no special person.  But in a little over a week I will see how much my old world has changed.

Be with me Lord.

Please.

 

December 6, 1995 – Wednesday – 11:55 p.m.

Rehearsal went okay at church tonight.  Afterwards I went to Becky’s house for our FCA party.  She was over here last night; we were looking up scripture together.  She is leaving after this semester.  She is going to UNC-Wilmington to major in Marine Biology.

We said goodbye to her tonight.  We said goodbye because we said hello.

I came back after our wonderful time of food, presents, and games.  I checked my messages when I got home and there was one from Tenielle.  I called her back and we talked for 45 minutes.  She sounded so lonely.  The only thing I want to do over Christmas break is hold her and make her smile.

In about 24 hours it will be December 8, 1995.

I will have known Jenna and Tenielle for two years.

I found myself desiring to tell Tenielle that I loved her tonight.  So I did.  I used the name of the disease.  I couldn’t help it.  It was like I was sick and had to cough.

She is such a faithful friend.

And she awaits in Love’s Sweet Name.

 

December 4, 1995 – Monday – 8:30 p.m.

I borrowed a movie called Rich in Love from Amy.  It was wonderful.  It was about family life.  Most of the movie took place during the summer.

I miss the summer.

We had rehearsal last night at church.  It went well.  Leslie bought me a Woody doll.  You know, that guy from Toy Story.  It’s the coolest.

Sharon talked to me last night and told me that Melissa, her oldest daughter, likes Vince.  I told Vince and that was good news to him.  I don’t know what he is going to do about it though.

Crystal called me while I was watching Rich in Love.  She called just to talk. It was kind of weird.

Something has happened to me.  It’s hard to explain.  I want so bad to like someone.  To think about someone all the time.  To lose sleep over someone.  But it’s not happening.  Even when girls call me just to talk, it’s not happening.  I try, but I fail.  I can’t even like Laura any more than a friend.

What has happened?

Who has done this to me?

I feel as if someone has taken that hunger out of me.

Someone has messed with it and broken it without realizing it.

Who?

Why can’t I look at someone and be struck to the bone in a moment of breathless delight?

My closest guess of who to blame is Emily.

The angel that I saw with my heart and not my eyes.

But I can’t blame her.  This is all inside me.  I’ll figure it out.  I’ll see what happens.  Perhaps the right girl will come along.

I don’t know.

Do I even care?