September 22, 1996 – Sunday – 11:15 p.m.

It has been the greatest weekend.  Rehearsal Friday night was a lot of fun.  I said my small amount of lines and walked off, yet anyone watching just laughed their butt off.

The work call on Saturday was fun; I designed the lobby display and helped put it together. It turned out pretty good.

After lunch, Tracey, Ann-Marie, and I headed for Carowinds.  Ann-Marie is really cool, she really makes me laugh.  She’s very witty.  The trip down there was great.  They rode some rides, but I went straight to the palladium.  Sharon and Bob found me; I sat with them.  We watched Susan Ashton and Geoff Moore and The Distance perform.  Then Hannah and Laura came back.  They sat with me and together we danced and jumped around to Petra and The Newsboys.

The Newsboys was the greatest concert.  It blew me away.

Everyone met at Shoney’s afterwards.  We had the best waitress in the world and did nothing but laugh the whole time.  It was the greatest evening.

I am so much in love with Jesus.  What did I ever do to deserve to be around such beautiful and kind people?  He truly has blessed me with the greatest friends.

Charlie’s ordination service was this morning.  I cried.  It was such a blessing.  He has been the such an awesome friend and leader to myself and the others here in McAlister.

I met with my small group today.  Abigail had rehearsal, so she couldn’t come, but Jessica and Shawna and I had a great study.  I can see that this is helping all of us grow.

You’ve given me so much God.  I don’t know how to thank you.

I’m surrounded by amazing friends and together we are surrounded by you.

How can heaven be any different?

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August 7, 1996 – Wednesday – 12:40 p.m.

Yesterday was my dad’s birthday.  He turned 46.  I sent him a card.

And also yesterday, I wrote a letter to Rebecca St. James and mailed it.  I might sound crazy, but she is a child of God, just like me, and I wanted to say thank you for her music and her writings.

I was in rehearsal until 1:30 this morning.  Crazy for You opens tomorrow.  My summer ends in six days.

It hasn’t felt like summer, but it is nevertheless.

Fishnet didn’t happen for me.

Deep Creek might not either.

I didn’t go to the movies as often, and Jonathan wasn’t around at all.  I wonder if Omneya is still at McDonald’s and if she misses me.

Oh well.  Six days left.  Most of my summer was spent in Hayes Auditorium.

Ten days until I’m 20.

Vince, Curtis, and I are making plans to stay at Vince’s house on Long Island during Thanksgiving Break to visit New York.

Then Christmas.

And soon…1997.

April 14, 1996 – Sunday – 4:30 p.m.

Friday night after dinner I videotaped Suzanne’s recital.  It was pretty.  When I got back to the dorm, I watched X-Files with Vince and then we got some Subway and rented Ace Ventura 2 and Spaceballs.

In the morning, at 5:30 a.m., we got up to go to Carowinds.  Vince came along.  The day was beautiful!  We did the drop zone and a few roller coasters.  At 3:00 p.m. we got in the crowd waiting to enter the Paladium where the concerts would take place.  I kept looking around for my brother, and then it immediately seemed like hundreds of others just immediately joined the crowd.  I was surrounded and it was so tight.  Then it started to rain.  We were stuck in a tight crowd of strangers, I couldn’t get out, and my brother was no where in sight.

Eventually, they opened the entrance gate and I was literally pushed forward by the swarm of people behind me.  The crowd was eventually stopped by another gate, so we were still outside in the rain.  I was surrounded and squashed by wet people.  The whole front part of my body was being pushed up against this large woman’s backside.  I was so sure she could just feel my balls against her butt cheeks.  So embarrassing.  My hand was on some girl’s leg, I couldn’t move it at all.  Someone’s hand was on my butt.

It was insanely awkward, but kind of fun at the same time.  And I was in that position for another hour.

After they finally opened the gate and let us all in, we found some decent seats.  I saw and talked with the High Falls youth group, Lisa, Kristen, Tony, etc.  They gave the greatest hugs.  My brother eventually found me and I met his friend Rudy.

I sat with Vince, Laura, and Kim during the concert, and man, for three hours we rocked the Carolina’s with Audio Adrenaline and DC Talk.  Such a blessing.  Vince was shocked at how much fun Christianity could be.

When it was over, I found all my old friends again and hugged them all.

Christians were all around us.  It was a great, great night.  I mean a truly, truly great night!

July 25, 1995 – Tuesday – 8:53 a.m.

Last night was Interesting.  We did go to the MXPX concert.  A group named Blenderhead was there too.  Although it was a Christian place called the Vertical, a lot of weird people with weird haircuts, tattoos and body piercings were there.  It wasn’t my thing, but I learned a lot.  It might have been Christian music, but my spirit was not lifted up.  There were moments when everyone around me was slam dancing.  I would just look up and think about Emily.

Wayne spent the night last night.  He and I plus Marcus and Kevin were talking about girls and how little Wayne had turned into a ladies man.  Then Kevin said that I was the Lady man.  He was referring to Emily.  None of them know Emily like I do.  All they see is her beautiful girl in the picture beside my bed.  I see so much more.

I laid in my bed last night thankful and almost in tears.  God knew what he was doing.  He had to show me the real Emily before he would allow me to see Emily in person.  There is so much I don’t know about Emily.  But I do know that I want her.  She is strong in who she is.  We are from two different worlds.

She is sunlight.

And I moon.

Knowing who she is, she searched for another red light like her.  And she found one over two years ago in a mystical land of forest-covered mountains and endlessly-giving waterfalls.  She realized I was special, even when I did not.

So, this is our story.

I am sure in her own way she is writing down her part.

The rest of the world does not see us.  They do not notice.  They do not care.

But, to me, the rest of the world hardly exists.

There is a place called Siler City.

And there is a place called Sanford.

There is a place called Banner Elk.

And there is a place called Boone.

There is a place called Crestview.

And there is a place called Heaven.

That is all I know.

July 16, 1995 – Sunday – 11:06 p.m.

I’m back home from Fishnet.

Friday was a good day.  I went to most of the programs and heard many great speakers like Winkie Pratney and Josh McDowell.  Steve Camp was in concert that night.

We met two guys in their early 20s.  They were from North Carolina and their names were James and Jonathan.  They fit right in with us and we had so many laughs.

Then Saturday came!  Another great day!  Rebecca St. James sang that night.  I got her autograph for Kevin on a huge poster.

I let it all go that night.  I ran and jumped around on that Virginian hillside cathedral.  I shouted Hallelujah so loud!  I sang so many songs.  I smiled at the Lord and felt him smiling at me.

That night, last night, would be my last night for a while at Fishnet.  And I realized that, sadly.  But so many new and different things occurred after the service on that wonderful night.  We got a visit from a woman named Rhonda with two small children named Skinard, age 6, and Andrew, age 4.  They came over because lightning was in the sky and the wind was all of a sudden on a move.

Skinard fell asleep while we were all sharing what Fishnet meant to us.  Then he woke up crying.  His stomach hurt.  It turns out that he hadn’t used the bathroom in the past four days because he was scared to use the Port-O-Let.

Well, the wind blew harder and we had to take the tarp down.  I was trapped under it with the two kids.  They were scared and crying.  Everyone was outside and trying to hold the tarp down.  Skinard got so scared from the wind and the thunder that he finally relaxed his bowels and let the poop flow.

There I was, under a blue tarp with white lightning all around, holding two extremely tanned kids, one whose white butt was now covered with smelly brown crap.  A colorful evening.

I tried my best to comfort those two scared kids while their mom took down their tent so they could leave that night and return to their safe and warm Richmond home.  I tried to tell the kids some funny stories and jokes, but they just really wanted me to pray.  After I finished one prayer, Andrew immediately asked me to pray again.  I stayed with them for 30 minutes before their mom returned and ran them down to her packed car.

The rest of us piled into the van so we wouldn’t get struck by lightning.  The storm passed and some went to sleep in their tents, but others, like myself, slept in the van.

Morning came and we sadly packed everything up and left one of the most wonderful places on this planet.

Now, let me take the time here to continue the story of some of these individuals.

Lisa and I got along pretty well.  She is my high school buddy; one of the two or three that lasted.  There was a moment where Lisa and I hugged, our cheeks pressed tightly together, and I became very thankful for this girl whom I’ve known for the past five years.  You are a special friend to me, Lisa.

Kristen, my new-found-Fishnet-friend, my Forrest Gump-puke-attack-helper, and my dear friend for life, grew more this Fishnet.  She tries so hard to do what is right.  She is a good wife.  She has a good husband.  Her husband calls me her boyfriend.  She doesn’t understand though that life is a collection.  She loves Fishnet and wishes it would never end.  I am her buddy.  In her words, she would point to me and say, “Dag, I love that mug!”

Dana and I grew closer.  She is a very funny person and I hope that we can see each other more at school this next year.  Bradley, Dana’s brother, will be a freshman at ASU in the fall.  He wants me to come see him.

While at Fishnet, Bradley came up with some small poems I thought were hilarious.  I’ll write them in here to amuse myself later:

Wind blow

Wind blow

Sally Smith

And Joe Blow

What do you know?

Not much

Why?

Belly button

Belly button

That’s what I’ve been huntin’

I found it in my tummy

So now I feel like a dummy

I searched all my life

And it caused me so much strife

Oh my

Why?

He’s a funny guy and I’m proud to call him my friend.

Tony and Leslie, as well as Jonathan and James are some of the most unique individuals I know.  These past five days were the greatest and they helped make them that way.

Thank you everyone.

There were two others with me at Fishnet, but I’ll explain them to you in a minute.

Kevin picked me up from High Falls and I gave him the Rebecca St. James autographed poster.  He seemed to like it.  He actually hasn’t said much to me.

I came home to my Visa bill and a clean bathroom, but I prefer the dirty ones at Fishnet.  Jonathan is not here.  He has moved out.

Veronica and her family were at church tonight.  She doesn’t like my haircut and she let me know that.  I talked to her mom for the longest time tonight.  After youth group, there was a party for Pastor Steve and Nancy’s 15th wedding anniversary.

Shirley is the greatest.  She loves her family so much yet she is so concerned with my life; the way I wish my own mom would be.  I told her that it is sad that my home church feels like a different world.  In my world I only have two special faithful friends.  And they are not Jenna and Tenielle.  Of course, they will always be great, but Jenna only sees Sam these days and Tenielle, well, she is just too young to know.

Shirley said she was sorry that I was lonely and to keep my chin up.  I sure have missed Shirley this past year.

Veronica has grown up in body.  She was holding Jasmine and when she handed her to me, her breast ran down my hand.  That part of her sure has grown as fast as puppies grow.  And it hit me.  This little girl is less than a year younger than Emily when I first met her.  Emily has seen a different slice of life than Veronica has.  In talking to Veronica I discovered her maturity has grown as fast as rocks grow, which is to say not much at all.

I told Shirley that all of my true friends were not of this world.  These two friends are not of this world, but they were with me at Fishnet.

The first one’s name is Emily.  She seemed to be constantly with me.  It really felt like I could see her and talk to her.  And I did.  I whispered little things to her.  Every time I thought of her, a smile filled my face.

The second and greater one’s name is Jesus.  Not only did I talk to him, but I worshipped, praised, and adored him.  I told him so many things.  I was smiling every minute.

So there it is.

Fishnet is gone, but with me.

Deep Creek may not even happen after all, at least not this year.

And an eclipse will occur in 17 days.

I showed Emily’s “big smile” picture to Nate earlier today.  He said, “Wow, she’s beautiful.”

“Yeah Nate.  She is.” I replied.

“I mean really beautiful.”

“Yeah, I know.”

Then he said, “She looks like you.”

I laughed, but he repeated himself and was serious.

I looked at her picture again and saw it in a way, but I also didn’t see it.  Then I remembered that saying that I’ve heard people say my entire life, “People, especially couples, who spend a lot of time together, begin looking like each other.”

Are Emily and I already becoming one?

And how will we look as we begin to spend more time with Jesus?

July 12, 1995 – Wednesday – 3:15 p.m.

We are at Fishnet!  Everything is set up.  I have already bought a T-shirt.  I am waiting for something to happen.

I’m here with Kristen, Amanda, Lisa, Andrew, Phil, Dana, Brad, Mike, Kim, Tony and Leslie.

Eleven people!  Fishnet ’95 has begun.

We have the same campsite as last year.  In a way it seems like nothing has changed.  But I have been to a whole new world since I was here last year.

Well…here we go…

June 3, 1995 – Saturday – 11:55 p.m.

Things easily pop up!

This past Wednesday, Tim invited Marcus and I to attend a David and the Giants concert.  We went and it was absolutely wonderful.  We also met two Christian girls.  They’re both 19-years-old and they both go to App State.  Their names are Erica and Kristen.  We sat next to them.  Erica is very pretty and she is 5’10”, that’s pretty tall for a girl.  I have her number and her address and what not, as well as Kristen’s.

This evening has been perfect.  Both of the girls will be in Cary for the summer.  That’s not too far away.  Marcus took a liking to Kristen.  Perhaps this is the beginning of something!