December 28, 1996 – Saturday – 10:21 p.m.

Danny and Peter came over last night.  We played Life with Nate.  It was fun.  They are the greatest of friends.  We have a long history together.

My parents went to a funeral and came back to say they saw Jason and Christi.  They both want me to write them and Christi said I should come to her New Year’s Eve party on Tuesday.  If I remember correctly, I stopped by there last year after church on New Year’s Eve.  How fitting that the first and last minutes of 1996 would be spent with Christi.

Mom and Nate and I went shopping in Durham after I got off work.  I bought the That Thing You Do soundtrack.  Before we left for Durham though, we stopped by Aunt Sis’s house on the outskirts of Siler City.  Her place is near where we used to live when I was in elementary school.  As I walked through the front door, I realized it had been several years since I stepped foot in that house.  What a playground that area used to be for me, as well as for Danny and Peter.  We explored those woods between our houses like crazy.  Kevin and I even got lost once and Henry got so mad at us.

Wow, I’ve known Danny and Peter for 14 years.  I didn’t know it was possible to know someone for that long.

Well, three days remain.  What will 1997 bring?

November 5, 1996 – Tuesday – 12:15 a.m.

Sunday night I went to visit Ann-Marie, Jeni, and Tracey in their room.  We talked until one in the morning.  They told me all about their recent “girl talk.”  Ann-Marie liked Curtis for a long time, but never said anything.  However, all three of those girls now think Curtis is a big jerk, and they no longer like him now that they know him.

Jeni told me later she doesn’t understand those girls; Abigail, Ann-Marie, and Tracey all say I am the nicest guy, yet I am still alone.

I told Ann-Marie that I really liked her at the beginning of the semester.  She blushed and said, “Really?  I’m sorry…”

We all laughed about it.

They told me that Abigail has returned and that K.C. kissed her over the weekend.  They are a couple now.  I was so happy to hear that.  I prayed for both of them.

Auditions were tonight for Children of A Lesser God.  Auditions were taped and sent to the director in New York.  His name is Mark and he’s a guest director coming down just to direct this show.  It would be crazy if I got the lead!

We had Bible Study tonight at Sharon’s.  Abigail, Tracey, Ann-Marie, Jeni, Dan, Allen, Curtis, Vince, Ellen, Josh, and I all went; Abigail had never been to their house before.  She seemed to have a good time.  We talked a lot; she is such a sweet girl.  I enjoy being her friend so much.  Thank you for her Lord.  She is like another Ryan or Christi in my life; and that’s what I wanted.

I don’t know how to thank you God.  You are so good to me.  You’re doing everything.  You are taking care of it all.  It feels like I don’t really have to do anything.  You are the one producing a good work in me.  I just love you so much.  I give you all the glory, honor, and praise!!

October 29, 1996 – Tuesday – 1:10 p.m.

The show went well last night.  I heard a group of girls talking about it at lunch today.  They pointed at me and smiled and laughed.  I blushed.

I went for a walk with the Lord last night.  We had fun.  It felt perfect.

I ate lunch with Jessica, Shawna and Abigail today.  Abigail struck up a conversation instead of myself trying so hard to.  It was nice.  We ended up talking about the Lord.  I’ve invited all three girls over tomorrow to watch Sense and Sensibility with me.  None of them had seen it yet.

We had a chapel service today at 12:30 p.m.  Rachel put it together.  There was different songs and special readings.  I read a Max Lucado story.  Jeni, Tracey, Rachel, and Derek performed a song.  Those four people were such a huge part of my Freshman year.

Allen was behind me.  He was such a huge part of my Sophomore year; along with Dan, Vince, and Curtis.

I turned and looked at Ann-Marie and Abigail.  It is now my Junior year and they are already important to me.

The day will come when I will say goodbye.  I find that disturbing yet comforting.  I pray that all these names will last beyond my years here.  I am still haunted by the names of Christi, Ryan, Jenna, and Tenielle.

Oh God, your love and these names do last forever.  They are in my heart, my mind, and I will never forget them.  Give me a chance to hold Abigail when she is hurting.  May I be a comfort to her.

Guide Ann-Marie through these years of freedom from home.

And Father, please put a love in me that reaches all people.  Let me be your light.  Let other lights around me grow with me.  May our lights make each other brighter.

September 30, 1996 – Monday – 8:30 a.m.

The last day of September.

Yesterday was great!  Marta came to church with me.  She really enjoyed it.  The high school guys were very impressed with the beautiful woman by my side.

At lunch, I went over to talk with Abigail.  The sunlight shone through the windows and hit her eyes.  The color that bounced back into mine was like the leaves of the mountain sides of these recent autumn evenings.

autumn

Her eyes were orange, yet brown, yet they perfectly mixed together and, well it made me forget what I was going to say.  I can’t remember if I said anything at all, I just know that I must have left looking pretty stupid.

I videoed The Taffetas that afternoon.  She was there, singing beautifully.  She knows the power of the Holy Spirit and I find that so beautiful.

I called her last night to talk about some scripture I had read.

She is amazing.

Look at me.

September is already over.  Three months of 1996 remain.  It’s difficult for me to believe that I have ever known anything other than Banner Elk and Lees-McRae College.  It’s hard for me to believe there was ever a time where my journal was full of Ryan and Christi and Jenna and Tenielle.

I was never supposed to make it this far.

But here I am.

I trust in you Lord.

September 13, 1996 – Friday – 7:45 p.m.

September 12th passed by and I didn’t even realize it.

Four years ago.

My Winter Dream has melted away.

It is Friday night and I lie alone in my room. Curtis has gone to Atlanta.  Dan and Allen are out.  Vince is with Laura.

I’m listening to Les Miserables.

I tried to call Marcus.  No answer.  I tried to call Christi.  No answer.

Sharon called me earlier today.  She brought a smile to my face.

I went for a walk and found that a duck had fallen off the waterfall at Elk River.  It was dead.  I took a picture.

I think I’ll try to call Emily.

. . .

I just got off the phone with Emily.  She was blow drying her hair and getting ready to go to a football game.  We had a fun talk.  She made me smile.  I miss her.  She sounded so beautiful.

She turns 18 in November.  As does Laura.

I can’t believe I’m 20.

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?

July 20, 1996 – Saturday – 9:40 a.m.

I taped the show Thursday night; it was really good.  I’m on duty this whole weekend.  Yesterday I slept in pretty late, then got up to watch Babe before lunch.

I watched The Fantasticks last night as well.  Rachel Anne came in late.  I was sitting in the back and she came in and sat next to me.  Such a beautiful girl.

Vince came over last night.  They went to Charlie’s and Taco Bell, but I stayed here on duty.

Three years ago to this day, I was losing sleep over Christi, yet still thinking about Ryan.

Two years ago, Kevin hydroplaned and we hit a sign.  We pushed the car out of the mud.  Our household was at odds and I longed to be free.

And just one year ago, I spent every second of every day thinking about Emily.  I miss her so much.  If anyone is the other side of me, it is her.

My story cannot be told without mentioning her.

We met three years ago in June.  She was 14, but I thought she was 18.  Now she is 17.

She represents the mystery in my life.

She is my Angel.

She is a beautiful girl far far away from here who knows me better than anyone.

July 8, 1996 – Monday – 2:30 p.m.

So far, a very interesting day.

Last night I was on duty and after ushering for the show I made my rounds throughout back campus.  I talked with a few of the summer studies girls and as I was going through Canon Cottage I introduced myself to a new girl.  Her name is Rachel Anne.

I went to sleep, but was awoken by a loud radio outside.  I went down to discover in was Rachel Anne’s room.  I told her about quiet hours, and she apologized and turned it down.  She asked me where registration was; she didn’t know the campus that well, so I told her I would meet her at 10:00 a.m. to show her around.

I then went and spent about 40 minutes talking with Ivy and Melissa.  They gave me a doughnut.  I’ve never really talked to those girls much before, but they’re really sweet.

This morning I met up with Rachel Anne.  She wasn’t completely dressed with I knocked on the door and I wondered if that was by design, but we spent the day registering for classes, buying books and supplies and getting her post office box.  We even walked over to Nations Bank and she started a student checking account.  Most of this required extensive waiting in lines and during that time we talked.

As the day passed, I continued to watch her.  She is nearly the exact likeness of Christi, except much cuter, which I didn’t think was possible.  She is only 17-years-old.  She turns 18 on the 27th of July.  She told me about herself and how she likes to help people.  She is not a Christian, but wishes to learn more.  She was just so nice and adorable during the entire morning we spent together.  We talked about so much.  I look forward to seeing her again.

Lord, please let me be someone special to her; someone she can trust.  May she learn to trust you Father.  And may my trust in you continue to grow.

May 31, 1996 – Friday – 11:20 p.m.

An amazing day.  A remarkable day.  The greatest of them all, because it is now.

My last day at McDonald’s!  Omneya and I had a lot of fun today.  Every time we would pass by each other to get food she would find some way to tap me or punch me.  We said goodbye.  She seemed sad.  Perhaps I’ll see her again at Christmas.

Marcus and I went to the Lee Senior Graduation.  After the ceremony full of well-written, but poorly-delivered speeches, we got onto the field and tried to find Christi and Ryan.  It was crowded, and I couldn’t find either one.  Several minutes passed.  I told Marcus we should leave, and I turned around to go to the car and return to college without seeing my first major crush again…but then I saw a face.  A girl’s face who had turned to look at me.  It was a face I knew well, but her smile was different.  She had gotten her braces taken off.  I saw her last August when her card had broken down on HWY 421.  Her eyes brightened.  I knew she saw me.  Her smile grew bright and she said “hey.”

We hugged each other.

And those are the moments I think I live for.  All I need is for a pretty girl to see me, smile, and say “hello.”  I could get through life on that alone.

I asked her if she was still going to App. State.  She said yes.  I told her I would look her up.  She said “Yes, please do, that would be great.”

Then we said goodbye and I walked away.  She looked a little more grown up.  A very pretty smile.

Ryan, you have become so beautiful.  I will see you in the mountains my friend.

And I even saw Christi on the way back to the car, plus Jonathan’s old girlfriend Mandy.

A perfect night to close everything up until next time.

In the midst of it all, I turned and saw the full moon rising above the trees, feathering down on me.

Tomorrow…I go home!

May 29, 1996 – Wednesday – 9:30 p.m.

A peaceful day.

They let me off work early.  I showered and then headed to Sanford for a haircut.  I had a good time.  The woman who cut my hair was named Amy; she was pregnant, beautiful, and very fun.  I don’t know if there is anything more beautiful than a pregnant woman.  It means someone loves her.  And is there anything more beautiful than a woman in love?

Afterwards I went walking at both Kiwanis and San Lee parks.  Memories of long ago flooded my mind.  I thought mostly of Christi and Ryan.  I two days I’ll see them both graduate high school and then I’ll head back to college, to my home.

Pastor Steve’s sermon was brilliant tonight.  I talked to him afterwards and thanked him for all of his great teaching over the years.

This is where I am from.

It might not be much now, at least to me, but the days I once knew and the days that are should not be compared.

God created this place.

It is beautiful.