May 28, 1997 – Wednesday – 9:00 a.m.

Yesterday I borrowed Vince’s car while he was working at the Sugar Mountain Tennis Pro Shop; I went to feed a dog in Newland and took him for a walk.  It was a favor for Vince.  We cooked dinner for Sharon, Laura, Hannah and Bob last night.  Then us guys went to see Scream at the dollar theater; I didn’t like it.

Sharon and I had a great talk today.  We talked about love and marriage.  She is so wise.  God’s grace and forgiveness is so huge.  I still don’t understand all the mysteries of this life and I’m never going to; at least not until heaven.

But I’m sure that’s not too far away; it feels like its right over these perfect mountains.

May 26, 1997 – Monday – 11:50 p.m.

After last night I went over to Crystal and Clifton’s and we watched Tommy Boy and hung out a bit.  Molly, Caroline, Dan, Charlie and others were over there.  Crystal wasn’t there though.  Her mom said she wasn’t doing to well spiritually.  She got her tongue pierced.  Ouch!  God help her.

This morning, Vince came by.  He and I plus Allen and his mom went to the Emporium in Blowing Rock.  I ordered a sweet and sour spud; absolutely delicious.

Vince and I visited Sharon and family this evening.  I worked on their computer a little.  We visited with some relatives of theirs down the road a ways.  Then we made a campfire and had smores.

There is such innocence and purity in these mountains.  Life is very simple and sweet these days.  I breathe, I eat, I laugh, I smile.  I stop and look at the beautiful green mountains and give thanks.  I pray, I sleep with my teddy bear, and I go for long walks in God’s creation.

I love Him.

I love Him.

I love Him.

May 25, 1997 – Sunday – 3:40 p.m.

We discovered on Thursday night that there were preview screenings of The Lost World at 10:00 p.m., so Marcus, Mike, and I went.  It was a pretty intense movie, but the projection was slightly out of focus, which annoyed me greatly.

I’m now in my apartment in Tennessee Dorm at Lees-McRae.  This place is so nice.  I have three full size rooms to myself, plus my own bathroom.  Quite a step up from by single room and community shower from my last three years.  And outside these beautiful rooms is an amazing summer mountain landscape.

Mom and I went to a Black church service on Friday night.  We left on Saturday morning.  Allen and I went out with his mom and grandmother last night.  His grandmother is 100% Italian, partially deaf, but totally sweet and hilarious.

Church was so nice this morning.  I’m surrounded by wonderful people.  And we went to Stan and Marty’s house for lunch.  So yummy.

I heard that Josh recovered from his surgery.  I miss him.  Vince is in Wilson at his sister’s graduation.  I miss him too.

I have found the most beautiful, peaceful, friendly, and relaxing place on earth.  It is a step below heaven.  And I’m going to leave it in a year.  I must be crazy!

 

May 22, 1997 – Thursday – 4:13 p.m.

I got my hair cut yesterday, but not by much.  I also went by Lowe’s Food and talked to Scott.  I haven’t seen him in a year and a half.  He’s very different.

After church last night, Marcus and I went to visit Christi and Patti.  Both of their arms were covered in bandages.  Half of Christi’s face was a crusty brown.  They were both doped up on pain medication.

It kills me to know they had to go through that.

I rented The Spitfire Grill and I discovered another favorite movie.  It was so beautiful and simple and redeeming.  I watched it twice in a row.

Marcus and I are going to see The Lost World tomorrow.  I hope is scares me.

I go back to Banner Elk on Saturday.

One last summer.

One last year.

May it go slowly Lord.

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?