June 15, 1997 – Sunday – 9:15 a.m.

Yesterday was one of the best days of the summer so far.

I was aloud to eat breakfast in the cafeteria that morning since I worked Orientation.  I ate with two different families.  They asked me questions about the school and about me.  It was fun talking to them.

For the rest of the morning I sat at a desk and checked people out of their rooms.  I helped a mother measure her daughter’s room to she could hang curtains for her, then we ate lunch together.  There was a drawing for a $200 scholarship.  I drew the name and it was Monica from Houston, Texas.  She was happy and thanked me.

After lunch, I drove her and Amber to Johnson City, TN.  I had such a wonderful time.  Our drive was really nice.  We talked the whole hour and a half drive.  Amber is engaged and Monica has a crooked chin like me.  I felt so comfortable with them.  We had a nice time to spare, so we went to the mall.  Monica bought some CDs and we looked at some tennis dresses.  Some were hanging up high and we couldn’t reach them, so Monica bent down on one knee and I tried to jump up off her other knee, but I missed and knocked a whole bunch of other clothes down.  We all had a great laugh.

We ate lunch in the mall and had 11 cent ice cream cones.  Amber and Monica were amazed at how nice people were here.  They were impressed with how nice I was.  They really seem to love the simplicity of the land.

We put a quarter in the little machine that would tell us if we were underweight or overweight.  They were within their ideal weight, but I was 21 pounds underweight.

I dropped them off at the airport after the mall.  My drive home was so nice.  I put the radio on a Christian radio station and just relaxed.  The mountains were so big and green.  Small rain drops decorated my windshield.  Knowing I just made two new friends, replaying in my mind what we did that day: throwing a Nerf football in the toy store, watching them as they modeled a bunch tennis dresses for me (they looked amazing in each one), and me getting toilet paper for Amber from the guys’ bathroom at a run down gas station.

I really had no idea how to get home.  I was a little lost, but finally found my way through the Eastern Tennessee country side.  As I was driving into North Carolina, I kept thinking of Sharon and her girls and how Hannah begged for me to come over last Sunday, but I was busy.  So, I thought I would surprise them.

They were having a cookout for Father’s Day and for Sharon’s dad’s birthday.  They invited me to stay.  The food was delicious.  After dinner, Hannah and I went for a walk down to the Snowflake Inn.  I hadn’t been there since Vince was looking at Melissa, I was looking at Laura, and Hannah, well she was leading the way.

But this time it was just Hannah and I.  How beautiful that little cabin is.  I long for it to be my home.  Hannah and I opened a window and looked inside.  And all I could think was, “Jessica sure would like this place.”

We took a longer walk back and Hannah kept trying to push me in all the mud puddles.  I kept trying to jump out of the way.  We couldn’t stop laughing.  Just an 11-year-old and a 20-year-old as free as they could be.

I left their house at 8:15 p.m. on June 14, 1997.  I came home and fell asleep, but Samarah called me asked me if I could stay with Mangus.  I did.  I slept over there and awoke to the tall oriental cat licking the sleep out of my eyes.

Father’s day of 1997!  What a lovely life I’m living.

June 8, 1997 – Sunday – 5:23 p.m.

Yeah baby!  The weekend was so great!  I am a Promise Keeper!!  A stadium of 60,000 Christian men singing praises to one God!  A night spent in a beautiful Victorian Bed & Breakfast!  Charlie, Vince, and Allen right next to me, plus new friends I made from the trip!  Whew, walls were torn down.

Redemption!  I am free at last!

I will live in purity.  I will read, pray, and fellowship!  I am alive in Christ!!

When I returned home I read chapter 17 from Max Lucado’s God Came NearEternal Instants.  You know, the moments so perfect that the whole universe stands still to notice.  I can think of many right now, and I’ve only been alive for a little over 20 years.

Sitting in the treehouse on Hemlock Hill on a snowy night listening to Braveheart.

Crystal rubbing my neck at the drive-in in Tennessee.

Talking to Emily under the boardwalk in Ft. Walton Beach.

Touching Abigail’s face in McAlister room 206 on Lees-McRae’s campus.

Kissing Jeni in Cincinnati, Ohio while listening to The Wedding Song by Kenny G.

Playing underneath the full moon with Dan and Allen on the back side of Grandfather Mountain.

Holding a curled up Tenielle on her bathroom floor.

Performing “The Mask Skit” at Abundant Life Christian Center.

Eating Wheat Thins and slowly falling asleep next to Jessica under God’s open starry sky.

Playing water guns with Jonathan, Mike, Marcus, and Kevin.

Tubing down Deep Creek with Danny and Peter.

Holding Syndi under the waterfall.

Passing a car in the turning lane with Jonathan.

Helping a lost boy find his mother at Fishnet.

Playing Myst with Vince in New York.

Helping Ryan in and out of the corner tree.

Standing next to the Grand Canyon with Brandon.

Graduating high school and seeing Renee smile at me.

Signing my way through Children of A Lesser God.

Singing with 60,000 men in Knoxville.

And that eternal instant right before I fall asleep each night, when I reflect on the beauty of each amazing day!

Oh wait, and how could I forget, perhaps the most perfect moment of all, riding back from Tennessee with Sharon as Hannah fell asleep in my lap.

May 28, 1997 – Wednesday – 10:45 p.m.

I watched Ben-Hur today.  I cried so hard.  Wonderful, wonderful, wonderful!  I love you more now Jesus.

I also worked a little in the summer theater box office, getting it ready, etc.  Church was nice tonight.  Hannah has become a wonderful little friend.  She is 11-years-old now, the age Veronica used to be.  Oh, how young I must have been when I was 16.

We went out to eat after the service and I tried to pay for my meal, but Sharon wouldn’t have it.  That family has taken such good care of me these page three years.

It’s hard to know what to write these days.  Vince and Allen and I are the only ones on campus.  We have this whole place to ourselves it feels.  Dan will arrive in a little over a month.  Curtis may never return.

Charlie and Kate are still together and seem to be doing well.

I have been at Heaton long enough to watch people grow up and grow older.  And people there say that I am still getting taller.

Josh is in pain from his surgery and frequent doctor visits.  How I wish I could comfort him.

The view outside my window is not the same.  I now have six windows instead of one.  Three closets instead of one.  Two sofas and a chair instead of zero.  My own bathroom where my toothbrush is now kept, instead of in my closet.  I have keys that will let me into every room on campus.  I have been given power and responsibility.  It doesn’t feel like I’ve changed, but I know I’m not the same person I was when I first began keeping this journal.

There are no girls here to think about.  If I do think of one, it is Jessica, out in Colorado.  What a wonderful friend!

I need to shave.  My wisdom teeth don’t hurt as much.  Of course, they aren’t there anymore, but you know what I mean.  My teddy bear is still with me.  I didn’t get to see Jenna over the break, but I did see Emily oddly enough.

It’s funny how moments grow in value, the older and rarer they become.

I wonder who is thinking of me tonight.  Jessica has a new window to stare out of, new mountains all around her, but I simply moved to the other side of campus.

Eleven months and one week now.

Time.

We’re just measuring the first part of eternity.  Like one yard stick compared to the entire globe and beyond.  Similar to my holiness when compared to God’s holiness.  I hate to leave this place, but I know I must.  I need to go out and create new things.  To challenge.  To change.  To set free.  To teach others how to fly.

If I try to stay here in this perfect place, I know God will put sharp objects in the nest, painfully forcing me out.

What can be beyond here?

I’ll soon have new names to write in these pages.  New faces.  New stories who will join in with mine.  New paths.  Perhaps other red lights.  Perhaps…Her.

Prepare me God.

Prepare the place where I will land.  I give my life to the work of your hands.  Mold me.  Shape me.  Make me.

Thirty minutes until the 29th of May.

Nine years until I’m 29.

Seven minutes have passed since I lifted my pen from the number nine.

I can’t seem to think of an exit line.

Good night.

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 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 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?