April 24, 1997 – Thursday – 10:50 a.m.

The Performing Arts banquet was last night.  To my surprise, I received the Acting Award for the year.  They complimented me on Children of a Lesser God, for learning a new language as well as memorizing the entire script, and they complimented me on my role of Polonius in Rosencrantz and Guildenstern.  I couldn’t believe it.  Within two days, I received awards for both my performance in life as well as my performances on the stage.

Tomorrow is the last day of classes, but I’ve already begun work for my Summer Theater Resident Director job.

I’ve come a long way and my dreams have all come true.

February 17, 1997 – Monday – 1:45 a.m.

It is over.

Today’s show was wonderful.  My whole family came, as well as Charlie, Kate, Abigail, Jeni, Tracey, and so many more from church.  Now it is over.

I did it.  This was easily the biggest acting challenge yet and I did it well.

Carla, Curtis’ friend from Atlanta, called me tonight.  We had a wonderful talk.

It feels like I just turned 20, but six months have already past.

What role will I play next?

It seems I can’t get to sleep tonight.

Life…this sure is pretty cool.

February 16, 1997 – Sunday – 1:30 a.m.

Something has happened to me.  Children of a Lesser God has changed me.  For the past month I put so much of my time in becoming James Leeds.  And in about 16 hours, it will be over.  I’ve learned so much.  Mark is such a true professional director.  He taught me the world.  He let me be an actor.  He trusted me.

There was an article in the paper, where Mark said, “Children of a Lesser God is a play about human rights, discrimination, and modern society’s reluctance to care.  Though the play focuses on the deaf culture, its ramifications can be applied to all forms of discrimination and ignorance, from racial issues to sexual orientation to religious preference.  It reveals the root of intolerance as based in the ignorance and apathy of human beings and their unwillingness to take time and energy to explore and understand an issue before they condemn its existence.”

Whew.  I don’t know how to explain it.  I seem different.  This play has matured me.  Even aged me.

Dana and Bradley came tonight, as did Dan and Allen.  They were impressed.  Strangers came up tonight and asked me how I memorized the whole show since I never left the stage.  To not only learn my lines, but to learn Sarah’s lines, as well as sign language.  I’m glad they noticed, but it didn’t seem all that hard, I just really wanted to do it and asked God to help me.

Dawn has been a delight.  To play a person who fell in love with a person she played.  No matter who I am, some version of me will always miss that time we were married on stage.

My dad came and seemed impressed, “Hard to believe that was you,” he said.

Thank you Mark Medoff for writing such a beautiful play.

It’s hard to know what I’m feeling.  Only one performance left.  Kevin is coming with the rest of the family.

So, where do I go from here?

What do I do now?

This love is leaving me.

I will be left alone with free evenings and no one to kiss.

February 13, 1997 – Thursday – 8:45 a.m.

The show opened last night.  It was a good show.  I went out into the audience afterward and a little boy came up to me.  His hands were in front of him, moving rapidly.  I realized that he was deaf and he was asking me my name.

I spelled my name out with my hands, and then I asked him his.

C-A-R-L, he spelled back.

He was really deaf.  And he was talking to me.  He was beautiful.  He instantly became so happy because the star of the show was talking to him.  Then the other deaf children saw us talking and they all came up to me.  I signed my name for them too and then signed, “Thank you for coming.”

Then one boy came up to me and spelled his name out.  It was long and he signed it very fast.  Then he touched his chest rapidly, “That’s me!” he said.  And he was so happy because I knew his name, but he did it too fast.  I didn’t get it.  And that hurt me.

All of these little kids had never heard music before.  They were real.  They weren’t actors.

They were really deaf, and they wanted to talk to me, but I just memorized my lines and a bit of the basics of sign language.  I couldn’t keep up with them.

I went into my dressing room, looked in the mirror, and cried.

February 7, 1997 – Friday – 10:30 a.m.

How different things are here at Lees-McRae than when I first arrived.  Charlie was over at Canon Cottage and I went to visit him after rehearsal last night.  I’ve known him for two and a half years now.  I think for Spring Break we’ll just go to Kate’s house in Florida again.

This place is so important to me.  Some have come and gone: Jason, Jeff, Michael, Syndi.  And others are going: Curtis and Jeni.

Life is so funny, but absolutely enjoyable.

Children of a Lesser God has become so close to me.  Dawn has become so important to me.  Or perhaps it is her character, Sarah Norman, whom I’ve grown to love.  When I am on the stage, I am in love with her.  She is so amazing.  She has this smell and I look forward to smelling it every evening.

All of the other roles I’ve played were supporting characters.  Now I am playing the leading man.  Other characters are supporting me and I’m growing dependent on them.  It will be very sad when this ends on the 16th.  It will be like losing a lover.

Mark, my director, has meant a lot to me these past few days.  He sees my growth and says people will never look at me the same after they see me in this show.

Thank you so much for this Lord.  Thank you for everything here at Lees-McRae.  I’ve never felt like I truly belonged some place until you brought me here.

My dad might come, as well as Kevin, Mom, Henry, and Nate.

I don’t deserve this love.

Fifteen months remain until the new storm blows me away.

Please don’t let it come too quickly Lord.

If I am to move to Virginia Beach, then please prepare that place for me.

I give you my life Lord.

I give you everything.

January 29, 1997 – Wednesday – 10:04 a.m.

Life is good.

I went for my Crosspoint interview yesterday.  I won’t know until March if I’m offered a job though.

Emily wrote a letter to me and also sent me a couple of pictures.  They are now in my wallet.  She is doing well and I miss her greatly.

Children of a Lesser God is going great.  I enjoy kissing Dawn and I like the way she smells when we are on stage.  I’m sure I’ll miss it when the show is over.  Our stage kisses have become a favorite dinner conversation topic amongst our friends.

The show opens in two weeks.

Abigail is good.  Jessica is good.  Shawna is good.  The guys are doing great.  Josh plays the drums in our church now.

Only three days of January remain.

January 14, 1997 – Tuesday – 4:05 p.m.

Tracey, Abigail, and Ann-Marie came over last night.  They hung out in my room for about 3 1/2 hours.  We watched a video of this ventriloquist; it was hilarious.  We played music and danced around.  I took some pictures.  After a while I was ready for them to leave, simply because I needed to get some work done, but I didn’t tell them that.

I gave Jeni a note yesterday, simply thanking her for who she is and telling her how important her friendship is to me.  She saw me today and hugged me.  She whispered, “I really like your letter” in my ear.  She graduates in May, but our story isn’t over.  I will never forget her.

Children of a Lesser God rehearsals start tonight.  The show goes up in less than a month.

It nears the middle of the first month of 1997.  I grow closer to God every day.  My friendships are increasing and growing.  Everything is great!  Vince calls me his brother, and we have confessed our Godly and brotherly love to one another.  Things could not be better.

There is still no special girl however.  Abigail, Jessica, Ann-Marie, and Tracey are all single.  I don’t know anything though.  I just long to see them smile.

December 19, 1996 – Thursday – 6:00 p.m.

I took a nap after work.  Then I checked the answering machine.  Dawn called me to see how I was coming along with the script.  I called her back and we talked for about 30 minutes.  She had an operation on her knee because of a car wreck a while back.  She told me that she has the first act down in sign language.  Her and I are going to work great together.

She is Sarah.  I am James.  James and Sarah fall in love.  I guarantee that while she is Sarah, she will not doubt that James loves her.

We talked about other things as well.  She told me about her and Derek.  They aren’t together anymore.  I want to be a close friend and help her grow closer to God.

It’s snowing outside now, but she said Banner Elk has six inches.

I’ll be there soon.

 

December 12, 1996 – Thursday – 10:30 p.m.

I worked at McDonald’s this morning.  It was easy and fun.  I brought my Children of a Lesser God script and got a chance to study it.  Omenya was happy to see me, as I was her.  She called me Jon Jon again.  I worked over 10 hours today and saw several people I knew, people I had graduated with, etc.  I saw Wendy, who went to Mars Hill College.  She said she was taking a break from college and getting married in a week and a half.  And I saw Andrea, beautiful as ever.

Life at McDonald’s hasn’t changed at all in the past six months.  Except that 10 hours seems to go by a lot faster.

Mom, Henry, Nate, and I went to Sanford and saw Appalachian Christmas at the Temple Theater; a wonderful blessing of a show.  Thanks God.

I called Mark, my director for Children of a Lesser God, this evening.  I just wanted to say thanks for casting me.  With this production, I’ll be directed by an off-broadway director from New York City, learn a new language, and kiss a girl who put a chill down my spine over the summer.

God is good.

He is so good to me.

 

November 17, 1996 – Sunday – 8:30 a.m.

Vince, Abigail, Shawna, Jessica, and I had a great time going shopping Wednesday.  I even bought Cindy Morgan’s new CD.  The next day we played Christmas music and put the shoeboxes together for Operation Christmas Child.  We wrapped them up beautifully.  It was such a fun and precious time.

The dance concert has been going on all weekend.  I was the Assistant Stage Manager.  I enjoyed myself.  My Stage Manager even bought me flowers.

Dawn and I got called back for Children of A Lesser God.  We learned another scene and performed it in front of a video camera on Friday.  I had to yell and scream and get angry.  It was fun, but stressful.  I don’t know how angry people have the energy to be mad all the time.

I am in the process of rewriting my one act.  I’m adding another character.

Timothy has been hanging out with me a lot.  He is a musical theater major.  He used to be gay, but he’s talked with Tracey and me and he has denounced that lifestyle and given his life to God.  His home town is only about 30 minutes down the road from my house.  He comes to church with us.

Rachel Anne wants to go to church with me this morning as well.

Life is fun and special.  I’m just walking along this road of life; enjoying the snowcapped mountains.