March 13, 1996 – Wednesday – 9:30 a.m.

Monday, Brandon and I plus his two younger brothers went to the Grand Canyon.  It was so huge.  Way bigger than I ever thought it would be.  God is an amazing artist.  I took some pictures, but they didn’t do it justice.  There’s no way you can fit that whole thing inside a frame.

That evening, we went to see Up Close & Personal.  It was good.

Tuesday, we visited Sara’s family and rented Braveheart.  I watched it up until the betrayal and then left with Brandon’s parents to attend a revival service down in Mesa.  We praised the Lord and then I went up for prayer and was slain in the spirit.  A nice time.

There was a beautiful girl there.  She looked at me and I at her.  Her eyes were endless, but then she looked away and left through a door.  I followed.  Our eyes met again.  Then she drove away.

We ate at Applebee’s on the way home.  I heard a couple my age behind me full of conversation and laughter.  And I longed to simply find a girl I could talk to, to listen to, to laugh with.  Then I watched our beautiful waitress, and I wondered the kind of happiness she had known.

I slept on the way home.  It began to rain.  It grew cold.  And I awoke to find that it does snow in the desert.

This is a beautiful state.  I am glad I came to visit.  It has caused me to be so full of thought.  I do love Banner Elk.  Although it can be troublesome and stressful, it is my home for the moment.  I thought about Sharon and her family.  Yes, I thought about Laura.

It is nearly the ides of March.  My fourth semester is half over.

Nothing gold can stay.

March 10, 1996 – Sunday – 7:52 p.m.

How to begin?

I landed in Phoenix, and when I walked through the passageway, Brandon grabbed my arm.  His girl was next to him.  She is beautiful.  She is 2 1/2 months pregnant.

We spent the day in Phoenix.  We went to the zoo, out to eat, etc.

I was so amazed.  It was flat, yet there were mountains all around.  Dry, yet cool breezes blew through my hair.  Cacti were all over the place.

I kept saying, “I’m in Arizona, I’m in Arizona.”

It was 84 degrees in Phoenix yesterday.  It was 20 degrees when we left Atlanta.  A huge difference.  The flight was so amazing.  A special moment that I will cherish.

So, I’m now in Prescott Valley at Brandon’s house.  Last night, Brandon and Sara and I ate at a Chinese place and then Brandon and I watched a movie here at his house.

Sara is a manager at Blockbuster, so she let’s Brandon rent movies for free.

I spent a comfortable night in his sister Mary’s bed since she was over at a friend’s house.  One of their cats slept in the bed with me.

The sun comes up earlier here.  That’s for sure.

Today, I went to church with the family.  It was nice and small and charismatic.  A lot of pretty girls.  Afterwards, Brandon and I went to eat at Zeke’s and then went hiking.  Such a beautiful area.  The town of Prescott is really neat.  I’m here for just a little while.  I am enjoying it.  The hike and climb today was so peaceful.  I was so high up.  The wind was so fast.  I was flying.

God has taught me to fly.  You can’t stretch out your wings, until you first let go of your life.

January 25, 1996 – Thursday – 2:45 p.m.

Yesterday was dull.  I was down.  Then I got a call from Brandon and he asked me when my Spring Break was.  I said the week of March 11th.  We made some small talk about me coming out there to visit like we always do.  It’s been three years since he moved to Arizona.  Every time we talk on the phone, we always talk about seeing each other somehow.  But we were simply dreaming a winter dream.

However, yesterday as we spoke, he said very plainly:  “You need to come out here man, because I need a best man.”

At first I didn’t catch what he said, but then it hit me.

“A best man!  What are you talking about?”

This went on for a few minutes, but I eventually realized my best friend who moved away is now getting married.  Well, to make a long story short, I went to Noah’s Ark travel in town and right now next to me is my dresser is a round trip ticket to Arizona during Spring Break.

Little me is going out west on a plane.

I got a cheap ticket for only $200.  The Lord has blessed me.  The plane leaves from Atlanta.  Curtis will take me since he lives in Atlanta.

I’m finally doing it.

I don’t really have the money, but Brandon is getting married.  I’m going to go meet his future wife.

November 6, 1994 – Sunday – 11:25 p.m.

The weekend is over.  Bummer.  I had a lot of fun this weekend.

Yesterday, Jeni and Tracey and I went to Gatlinburg, Tennessee.  Craig, Jeni’s old youth pastor, and his wife, Coletta, were there to take their youth group on a fall retreat.  They rented a chalet.  Jeni had directions so after hanging around in Gatlinburg, we drove up to the Chalet.  They were out, so we just waited.  The sun had set and it was dark.  While we were waiting Jeni heard some weird noises, so she walked down the driveway to see what it was.  I just sat on the porch.

Suddenly Jeni was running up the drive way screaming, “Jacob, it’s a bear!  Jacob, it’s a bear!”  She was scared to death.  I went down to see it, but only caught a glimpse of him as he walked off the driveway and into the woods.

Finally, the group came.  I played basketball with the guys and we all ate spaghetti for dinner.  The girls got a kick out of me since I laughed at everything.

I enjoyed myself.

Craig and Coletta are really great and I see them in the way I saw Jason, Christi’s brother, my youth pastor before Shurby.

We left that night and got back around 2:00 in the morning.

Jeni and I ate breakfast together then went to church.  Tracey didn’t go to Sunday School with us, she just went to the worship service.  I love holding Jeni’s hand in church.  She is so delicate.

Mr. Angel was out of town so he asked Jeni and I to lead the Sunday School lunch.  Everyone seemed to enjoy it.

Today I had to run props for a rehearsal of The Dining Room.  It was fun.  I enjoyed myself.

Tonight I was lying next to Jeni in her bed while she was studying.  I fell asleep and then started talking in my sleep.  Jeni and Tracey both laughed their head off.

Brandon called me today.  I wasn’t in, so he left me a message.  He sounds like he is doing okay out in Arizona.  I really hope I can visit him soon.  I’ve never been out west.  It’s been almost two years since he left.

In one week I will be back from visiting home.  I wonder how I will feel.  I feel so honored to take Jeni home with me.  I know everyone will love her.

Who couldn’t?

She loves to serve me.  She likes to get me dessert in the cafeteria and to refill my drink.  She takes care of me.

Thank you for her Lord.  Please keep us together.

September 2, 1993 – Thursday – 9:45 p.m

September 2nd.

September 2nd.

That’s impossible!

It can’t be September already.

But it is.  I guess that means I was having fun.

This year in Spanish II, I sit in the same seat I did last year in Spanish I.  The same people who sat around me last year sit around me this year.  Today, Mr. Benton said something funny that reminded me of something funny he said last year.  It seemed like time didn’t pass and I was still in 1992.

But time has passed.

Last year about this time, the skit group was on a roll.  We were getting new skits together and I was so much infatuated with Ryan.  Skit group practice has been some of the best times of my life.  We still have it, but it is not the same.  Brandon is gone.  Anne is gone.  Jason our leader is gone.  Kevin is gone.

Those days are gone.

I want them back so bad, but life doesn’t work that way.  They were here for a season and now they are gone.

Forever.

Even if I could live one of those days over again it would be so painful.  Just knowing that it was in the past and that it would never return would be too much to bear.

Where are they?

Silence.

Only my memories?

I want more.

September 2nd?

1993?

Please NO!

Why is life like this?  Even the most joyful times of my life end up causing a little pain.  I don’t want to grow up.  Not yet!

A senior in high school?  It’s too soon!

Retrospect hurts.

I want to stay a child just a little bit longer.  What’s the rush?

I want to go to skit group practice again.

I want to talk to Ryan in the balcony of her high school theater on September 12, 1992 again.

I want to have a lock-in at church during Halloween again, fasting all night for the lost, breaking that fast at the crack of dawn with day old pizza, and watching a sleepy Ryan and a sleepy Christi as they laid their heads on each other’s shoulders.

But it is only a Winter Dream.  No matter how much I wish, tomorrow will come.  And then September 4th, and 5th, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, and then the 12th.

September 12, 1993 is going to be a painful day for me.  Help me God.

Brandon called me yesterday.  He wants me to come see him during Christmas.  I want to, but flying to Arizona costs a lot of money.

I miss him.

My best friend moved away!