June 9, 1998 – Tuesday – 2:00 p.m.

After church on Sunday I went to visit Jenna and Tenielle.  Jenna was at home, but Tenielle was at work.  Jenna was still beautiful and very nice to me.  Tenielle was rude and kept saying I never called or wrote to her.

“I’m here now,” I said, but she didn’t care.  I’ll try to see them again at least once before I leave.

I talked to Cheryl for a decent amount of time at church on Sunday night.  She is doing really well, and I’m super glad to see that.  However she said that Ryan and Amy weren’t doing really well spiritually.

Peter came over yesterday.  We played Nintendo, just like the good old days.  Sarah called that even saying that Jessi was going to come see her and they were driving up to the mountains to visit, which is exactly what I am doing with Lindy (as far as I know).

Marcus came to visit last night and stayed until midnight.  Right after he left, Emily called and we talked for exactly four hours straight.  Both of us laughed, and both of us cried.  We complemented each other.  She was so good to me.  I talked to her about Sarah and she talked to me about Brandon and how much she was hurting.  I tried to explain to her how I was trying to handle Sarah and I since I was leaving.  I told her how honest I was with her.

Emily said I was doing everything right.  She said she could just go on with her life, just knowing that I was alive.  She says I do so much for her, but all I do is exist.  I just exist, but that is all that she wants.  She only wants me to alive, healthy, and happy.  Is that the truest kind of love?

As I was talking to Emily, I accidentally called her Sarah.  Oops.  It seems Emily and I have a perfect relationship.  We stand in awe of how amazing it is.

Thank you God.

Why did you give me so many amazing relationships?

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September 7, 1996 – Saturday – 9:50 a.m.

The scene outside my window is so beautiful.  Morning has come.

Last night and earlier this morning was so wonderful.  Talking with Laura, Molly, Brooke, and Karen reminded me of my days spent with Ryan, Christi, Cheryl, and Amy.

Laura and I sat next to each other.  We kept joking around and picking on each other like we had been best friends since Kindergarten.  When I first arrived last night and she saw me she said, “Hey bud!”

She called me her buddy.  I’m Laura’s buddy.  Her friend.  I’m so happy.

When ever we left last night, all of the girls told me how wonderful it was to meet me and talk with me.

Whenever it came time for Hannah’s bedtime, Sharon asked me if I could carry her up the stairs to her room.  I did.  She was heavy, but so precious.  Sharon pulled down the sheets and I laid her down.  Sharon covered her up and kissed her goodnight.  It was so peaceful.

I love Sharon so much.  I call her mom.  She takes such good care of me.  Her home is my most favorite place in the world.

There is a wedding at church today and a party at Marty and Stan’s tonight.

I pray Tracey is okay.

I pray for Tenielle.

I feel renewed.

I am loved and I have friends.

Thank you Jesus.  How could I ask for more?

May 13, 1996 – Monday – 3:25 p.m.

Friday night, Marcus and I went to see Twister.  It was so cool.  The best thing I’ve seen this summer yet!  The two of us had fun.  Its good to hang out with my good buddy.

I worked Saturday and then took a long bubble bath that night.

Marcus and I went to church on Sunday.  Cheryl was there.  The three of us sat together.  Then Jenna and Tenielle came in late.  It was good to see them and to hug them.  Cheryl and I rented Braveheart, picked up Amy, and watched it at her house over cheese pizza.  Sam and Anne came up, they live in Charlotte now.  They both looked good.  They bought a puppy together.

Ryan was doing something with her boyfriend and Christi was busy with her boyfriend.  Cheryl is seeing a guy named Shawn.

And Amy dyed parts of her hair blonde, and well, she looks like a skunk.

They liked the movie.  We drove to High Falls afterwards, but the youth group was cancelled due to Mother’s Day.  So they took me all the way home and then left.

I wasn’t supposed to work tonight, but they called me in and gave me tomorrow off instead.  This old guy named Herbert takes me home every time.  He is kind of funny and weird, but he loves The Lord.  We talk about Jesus on the way home.  I thank God for him.

My past is still here.  I could be part of it if I wanted to, but I don’t want to anymore.

I want to go back home.

July 18, 1995 – Tuesday – 9:17 p.m.

My Ninth Book of Days.

Nine books!

Can you believe that?

Twenty-nine sections!

This section will contain a lot.  First of all, Marcus and I will take a short trip down to Florida.  There I will see and hold Emily.  Shortly after that, I will return to Lees-McRae College in beautiful Banner Elk, NC.  Several new stories will begin there.  And this book will contain them all.

To begin My Ninth Book of Days I will tell a few stories that began yesterday.  On Monday morning, Hank, Patti, Christi, and her friend Nicole came through the drive-thru of my McDonald’s in Siler City.  Yes, they surprised me.  They were taking Christi and Nicole to Statesville where the two girls were joining a group that would tour the United States for the rest of the summer.  She will not be back, I believe, before I leave for school.

I watched them drive off and I remembered those days.

Last night Kevin and Marcus and I visited the Vernoica’s family at Tim’s place before they left for Arkansas.  Shirley’s visit really ministered to me, but as for Veronica…not only is she in another state, but also in a totally different world from mine.

Today, or this evening rather, my car broke down on the way back from getting my eyes checked in Sanford.  I was on 421, so I walked in the rain to a house and called home, Marcus, the Neals, and Tim, but no one answered.  Then a number I had put to memory long ago popped into my head.  Amy answered the phone.  She and her dad came to help me.  He let me drive his truck back to their house to get some jumper cables while he stayed with the car.  And then, at that house, I found Ryan, back from her trip with Cheryl to Florida.  Cheryl, however, is still in Florida.  Small talk was made.  Amy and I drove back to the car, but before I left, I told Ryan jokingly that I would see them the next time the car breaks down.  There is probably a bit of truth in that though.

And Cheryl will return from Florida after I have left for Lees-McRae.

Whether it is sad or not…those five stories:  Christi, Veronica, Ryan, Amy, and Cheryl…seem to be coming to a close.

All is said and done.

. . .

After our goodbyes last night, Kevin and Marcus and I went to the Total Man Forum meeting.  There we talked about sex, courtship, and marriage.  The meeting was great.  Then men in my church are very wise.  One day… I will be too.

. . .

It is obvious that most of my writings in this book will deal with Emily in some way.  I have grown attached to her.  As I look back in my life, I feel like I have deeply loved so many people, but whenever I began to truly care about Emily, they all seemed like childish infatuations in comparison.  So, no matter what may come of us, I will be thankful, because not everyone is given the chance to entertain an angel.

June 18, 1995 – Sunday – 10:59 p.m.

Sam (Ryan and Amy’s brother) and Anne (Cheryl sister and Jason’s ex-girlfriend, Jason is also Christi’s brother and Christi and Ryan use to be best friends) bot married on the 17th of June.

Ryan and Amy were there.  Ryan was beautiful.  That evening we saw Batman Forever.  It was cool visually, but that was all.  They made that movie knowing it would make money, but it is no where as good as the first two.

In church this morning I sat between Jenna and Tenielle.  We are all great.  All three of us are here.  This afternoon I watched a movie called The Inn of the Sixth Happiness on video.  Pretty amazing.

And then tonight, Jonathan and I went to High Falls.  The youth group was fun.  Kenny was there and he brought me home so Jonathan could see Mandy.  We talked for an hour.  He is different.

Then, I went for a walk on the railroad tracks.  As before, the threes were all lit up with fireflies.  This is what I realized…

Ryan, Amy, Jonathan, Scott, Tenielle, Cheryl, Christi, Marcus, Kevin, Jenna…

They are all still here.  And they are just one step away.  Ryan and Amy and I got along so easily today.  If I needed them to be, they would be there for me in a heartbeat.  And they know that if they needed me, I would be there for them.

Everything has changed, but absolutely nothing has.

The reason they aren’t closer now, is because I don’t want them to be.  I don’t want it bad enough.  I still love them and care about them, but they aren’t on my mind as much as some other names…

Emily, Michelle, Charlie, James, Caroline, Molly, Crystal, Clifton, Sharon, Laura, Dan, Lisa, and many others.

My heart is with them.  That is where my life should be.

While at High Falls tonight, I realized that my old church was still continuing.  And then I realized that Banner Elk is still continuing.  The whole world turns and it is not noticing me.  But everyday I look up and know that the One who matters most is always watching.

June 5, 1995 – Monday – 3:30 p.m.

Yesterday’s church fellowship wasn’t much fun.  Jenna and Tenielle don’t regard me anymore.  Cheryl said hi and I said hi back, but that was it.

Marcus and Jonathan are the only friends I have these days at church, and they practically spend every waking moment at my house.  They often feel more like brothers than my own brothers.  Outside of church, I have Mike and Danny and Peter, but all of my other friends I will see again soon in Banner Elk.  I talked to Charlie a little earlier.  I called him at church.  He said that Caroline, Molly, Crystal, and Clifton say that they miss me all the time.  I wish I was there.

Today, I didn’t have to work since I had an appointment with Dr. Smith, my orthodontist.  It was very short.  So, I went to Food Lion to try and find Scott.  I found him.  It’s true, he is getting married.  He seems to be doing fine.  We laughed a little.  It was good to see him.

I went to Wal-Mart afterwards and bought a camera and some other stuff.  I spent two-hundred dollars.  I put it on my Visa card.

I work five days in a row starting tomorrow.

Please help me Lord.

I love you.

May 14, 1995 – Sunday – 4:50 p.m.

It felt good to be back at church this morning.  I sat next to Jenna and Tenielle.  We laughed a lot.  Tenielle wrote me this letter wrapped in tape and tin foil.  She put a bow on it.  It was pretty funny.

As the band was playing I would look over at them.  They are both so beautiful.  I think the world of those two girls.

Marcus was there, as was Cheryl.

And well, I was there too.  That was the oddest part.

I gave my mom her mother’s day card this morning.  She liked it.  I told her this morning that in three months I bet to go back home.

She laughed.  “Home?”  She said.

And I realized it wasn’t just school to me now, it was home.

Siler City and Sanford are as much a home to me as Banner Elk and Boone.