September 30, 1998 – Wednesday – 10:31 p.m.

I cannot believe it is the last day of September.  Nine months of 1998 are over.  Only three months remain until the final year of the century.

And here I am in Virginia Beach.  How much have I shown you about this place? You know my roommate is Matt and he is a very spiritually sensitive, freshly baptized in the Holy Spirit, Christian.  God is using him in amazing ways.  He is very different from me, and he hardly ever says a word.  We’ve only really talked openly about two times.  He is obsessed with the Spice Girls, keeps a long distance relationship with Kelly, and likes to make clothes out of shower curtains.  Wow, when I look at that on paper, I see how unique he really is.

I work with him as well as with David, Katie, Jenny, April, Curren, and Dawn.  Dawn is beautiful, engaged, and leaving the bookstore.  We connected and seemed to understand each other the most.  Curren plans to be president of the United States.  April is the smart-mouthed roommate of Mary Jo, with whom I spent the 4th of July.  We basically pick on each other every time we work together.  It’s fun.  Jenny is the daughter of Channing, the textbook manager, and sister of Sara, who worked until school started back earlier this month.  Sara and I seem to share more with our eyes than with our actual words.  I always find us looking at each other.  Katie is part of the Parkway Temple youth church and on my drama team.  She got saved after seeing last year’s Christmas show, the very show I’m attempting to recreate.  And, of course, there is David.  He’s the Worship Pastor for Parkway’s Youth Church, and the first person I met here.  Oh, and I can’t forget Donna, the bookstore manager.  She’s from Boston, and her husband has the most expensive prosthetic leg in the world.

Aaron and Blisson work in receiving, and Amy, Kieth, Valarie, and Jennifer work in textbooks and book keeping.  Who knew it took so many people to run a small campus bookstore?

As far as classes go, I have three on Monday and one on Wednesday.  Anna, Nicole, and Chris are in my first class on Monday and Wednesday.  We usually sit together since we all hung out together that first night we went dancing near the waterfront.  Boy, that seems like a long time ago.

In my 2nd Monday class, Video Production, I’ve gotten to know Kirsten, Gina, and others.  They are nice.  Nicole is in there as well.  We are on a team together with Patty.

My third Monday class is Dynamic Communication.  There I have met Brian, who owns more movies than anyone I’ve ever known.  I visited his place the other night.  He’s very nice, shy, and simple, but he still makes me laugh.

I’ve also met Shawn in that class.  He’s our School of Communication Chaplin and has a personality similar to Marcus.

Living around me are Mary Jo, Coleen, and Connie & Christian.  The latter are married and from Germany.  Matt and I get together with them on Monday nights for a prayer meeting.

Jason and Rachel are worship leaders for Divinity Chapel and two of the most amazing people I’ve come across.  They carry the face of Christ.

Cindy lives farther away, but I’ve spent time with her and David outside of Regent on several occasions.

I’ve worked with many people on several different film and video projects here.  Yet, I hardly see many of them now that those projects are over.  With theater you really get to know people over months, but short film projects can last only a day or two.

Monroe is a Teen Mania veteran who is in theater and also loved my pitch this past Friday.  I’ve noticed many other beautiful eyes and smiles.  Hopefully soon I’ll know their names.

Parkway Temple brings along an entirely different collection of beautiful souls.  Tammie and Jose are our leaders, then there’s Kimberly (beautiful, innocent, sweet, loving, kind, amazing….too bad she’s 15), Robyn, Sterling, Justin, Matt, Jeremy, David, Kyle, Aaron, Jennifer, Jamie, Kristen, Charlotte, Lauren, Brett, Cameron, Jason, Ed, and many others whose names I’ve forgotten.

And there you have it; those names are the major players so far.


February 25, 1997 – Tuesday – 5:30 a.m.

It’s 5:30 a.m. and I’ve been up for over an hour.

Last night, around 9:00 p.m., Jeni calls me up and asks me if I would like to go on a walk with her and Abigail.  Of course, I said, “yes.”

I brought two flashlights and the three of us went to the treehouse.  The was there was delightful and fun.  Once in the treehouse, Abigail told me what had been pressing upon her heart.  She wants to sing, sing for the Lord, and Lees-McRae doesn’t offer a purely vocal performance major.  Abigail is considering a school in Nashville.  She feels God is calling her there and in two months, she might be gone.

The words tore holes in my heart, but I felt God’s peace.  I was becoming attached to her, so it was bound to happen.

The three of us prayed and Abigail thanked God for me and my inspiration.  She looks up to me and calls me her role model.  After we prayed, I asked her if she would like to sing.  I laid my head upon her shoulder and her voice filled the air:

“Oh Lord, you’re beautiful

Your face is all I seek.

For when your eyes

Are on this child,

Your grace abounds to me.”

So, in a couple of months, I will say goodbye to Jeni, Curtis, and Abigail.

Life is simply a collection of greetings and farewells.

There are times though, when I wish it wasn’t.

January 18, 1997 – Saturday – 6:30 p.m.

There’s something I’m not understanding.  I know I am a creation of God.  And I know that sin broke the original bond.  I know that Jesus’ blood has made a door that allows me to enter into the grace of God.

So, everything is complete.

But, I am being haunted.

Voices, eyes, smiles, they won’t let me break free.

Does one ever forget?  Or is this part of the joy?

I think now that God sees I understand the death of his son for a doorway into his grace, I believe he is now trying to show me why.

A day does not pass in which I don’t grow closer, in which a new angle is not seen, in which a soul’s eyes do not let me inside their true self.

A day does not pass in which I do not fall more in love with everything God created.

Souls have told me I have helped them become who they are.  Does that mean I have aided in their creation?

But perhaps an hour or two or a couple of years will pass and our two earthly souls haven’t been in fellowship, time and space prevents us from sharing those two very things.

Jesus died and rose in order to welcome us into his fellowship, both with him and everyone else, his bride, his grace, his glory, his everything.  Is he hurting when we are an hour or two away from each other?  Is he hurting when when two members that make up his bride can’t be together?

My collection is growing.

I know more souls now than ever.

I have seen more eyes now than ever.

I have created more smiles now than ever.

And I believe I am beginning to understand why he died.

I can’t imagine what it must feel like to give your own life for your creation…and they not even notice.

I am so sorry God.

October 22, 1995 – Sunday – 2:10 p.m.

Fall Break is over.  I had a peaceful time at Crystal and Clifton’s house.

Allen went to church with me and Charlie this morning.  He is considering becoming a Christian.  I praise God for that.

Dan L. brought a girl to church this morning.  We all went to Subway.  I don’t know her name, but she was interesting.  I told her I write a lot and she wanted to know my major themes.  I told her about “my collection,” how I view life as a collection of “hellos” and “goodbyes” and the love we share in-between.  She said it was pessimistic.  But I think it’s a good outlook.  Realizing all things come to an end only makes us appreciate them more.

In about 50 minutes I’m going to leave for Johnson City, TN.  I have been asked to pick up a girl named Jenny at the Tri-City Airport.  I don’t know her, but she is a student here.  They are giving me a van and paying me.  We will say “hello” and another name will be added to my collection.

It is a beautiful day outside.

Church was so amazing this morning.

Jesus is the greatest!

August 3, 1995 – Thursday – 5:40 p.m.

Today was my last day at McDonald’s.  My collection has grown because of that place.  So many names, so many stories.

Betty, Cindy, Debbie, Toni, Danielle, Robert, Lynn, Carl, Travis, Ronnie, Louisa, Delores, Ola, Deborah, Tim, Tamika, Tonya, Amy, Shawn, Thomas, Julissa, Betty, Virginia, Josefina, Reggie, John, Kenesha, Beth, Natalie, Mike, LaQuisha, Phillip, Martha, Herbert, Avis, Jackie, Hershel, and, of course, Barbie.

Then there were people who came through the drive-thru everyday.



The Mayor

The Medium Coffee Girl

The Newspaper Man

And the beautiful woman with three little girls who either got a bacon biscuit or a plain biscuit with a buttered muffin, hash brown, and a small Diet Coke.

With the bacon biscuit, her price was $3.16.

With the plain biscuit, her total was $2.63.

She came through everyday for the past three months, but I only remember her looking me in the eye once.

. . .

I called Emily a little after 5 o’clock.  They are in the middle of a hurricane.  Everything is wet.

But I like water.

Especially when it is falling.

Marcus and I will leave around 3 o’clock tomorrow morning.

And I have absolutely no idea what will happen.

May 10, 1995 – Wednesday – 11:55 p.m.

I am home, if this place can be called home.

I am in my room, if this room can be called mine.

Jonathan is here.

We had a wonderful time this evening simply talking, laughing, and playing water-guns in the dark.

And so my summer has begun.

Tomorrow I plan on getting a haircut and visiting my old high school.  I will more than likely begin work on Monday.

Mom and I had a wonderful time on the way back home.  I told her about college.  She actually listened.

Perhaps this place is my home.

Perhaps it always has been.

Perhaps it always will be.

My Freshman year is over.

My collection has doubled.

I am smiling.

February 8, 1995 – Wednesday – 12:38 a.m.

It happened.

It’s over.

Only four and a half months.

Jeni and I aren’t a couple anymore.

What was it all for?

What did I learn?


I suppose I will find out why in time.

She was wonderful and I love her.

I loved her so much that I wanted her forever.

The way things were going, I couldn’t keep her forever.  So I thought it would be best to simply be her friend.  I’m sure that I can keep her forever that way.

I will miss her.

I will miss her family.

She is not withdrawing from school.  She says she will finish the semester and then she will see.

I am okay.

I feel better.

This way I will always love her and never have bad feelings for her.

Thank you Jeni.

Thank you so much.

Another note has played.

Another name written down in my collection.

She will remain special.

I will never forget her.

She was beautiful.

She was mine.

I was hers.

We were special for four and a half months.

And four and a half months will do.

December 26, 1994 – Monday – 7:40 a.m.

It is the 26th of December in the year 1994.

Did you hear me?

December 26, 1994.

I have been alive on this earth for 18 years, four months, nine days, two hours, and 40 minutes.

That’s a long time.

But then again…what is time?

I feel empty.

Arms.  My arms.  They hurt.  They ache.

And I know why.  They are not holding the one I love.


Just writing her name gives me the chills.

She called last night around 11 o’clock.  We talked four hours.

She is in Cincinnati, Ohio.

I am in Lanexa, Virginia.

For the summer of 1995 it looks like I will be where she is now.  She wants me to go home with her and find a job in Cincinnati. Then maybe just visit my family in North Carolina around the 4th of July.

Do you remember when Jenna and I bought Grey Poupon on the 4th of July?

So many smiles, so many moments of laughter, not just from Jenna, but from every person I’ve encountered; every person I’ve spent at least a few fleeting moments with these past 18 years.  Yet I’m sure there are some I have forgotten.

Is my past truly behind me?

Will I allow myself to spend a summer in Cincinnati?  Will my heart?  Will my arms?  Will my eyes?

What is there in Sanford?

What is there to hold in Sanford?

What is there to look upon in Sanford?

Today, Dad and I went to see two movies:  Star Trek: Generations and Forrest Gump.  Star Trek was cool, but will there ever be another movie as amazing as Forrest Gump?

As I left the theater I looked at the different human beings around me.  Some had tears in their eyes.  Some were holding the hand of a loved one.  That certain individual had found that other person they were created to love.

What an adventure!

What a discovery!

What a miracle!

The miracle of another human being.  How Jeni and I ever came to know each other is beyond me.

Beyond me.

There is much beyond me.

But my savior, very close to me, has taught me to love and value another one of his beautiful creations.

Time does not exist.  Days may pass.  Years may pass.  But my past will grow.  My collections will grow.  My love for Jeni will grow.

The end will draw close, but it will not be over.

And in the meantime, I will enjoy my time here on earth.

I will enjoy my time with Jeni.

I will enjoy Lees-McRae College.

I will enjoy the summer of 1995.

I will enjoy the future.

For surely the best days of my life are not the ones you’ve already read about, but the ones I have yet to write.

September 25, 1994 – Sunday – 11:35 p.m.

Okay, about yesterday…

Seeing my brother and Marcus showed me one thing yesterday.  My life is, as before, simply a collection.

A book.

I’m on a journey.

A great adventure.

I will forget none of this adventure.

I will write it down in these books.

I enjoyed church this morning.  Jeni is not depressed about her ticket or anything.  She is content.

After church, we did the Sunday School Lunch thing.  There was a guy in the who said, “you never stop learning.”

I spoke up and said, “I heard someone say once that you don’t start learning anything until you’re 40.”

We talked about it and he agreed with me.

I guess I’ll find out it’s meaning in 22 years and as the additional years pass by.

Jeni and I spent a lot of time together today.  We did some homework for Religion together.  She didn’t have to go to rehearsal tonight, but she came anyway, just to watch me.  She is so great!

We kissed each other so many times today.  Our relationship is great.  We’ve been together for about four days.  From the moment I saw her I knew something was there.

Thank you for her Lord.

Please give me a peaceful sleep.

June 10, 1994 – Friday – 11:58 p.m.

As I am writing this it is becoming the 11th day of June, 1994.  Today dad and I saw City Slickers II and tonight I received my high school diploma.

It happened.  I graduated from high school.  Jenna and Tenielle were there.  They seemed to enjoy it.  I gave them a big hug!

I can’t believe it’s over.  All those people.

There was one thing that happened tonight.  It happened twice.  I can’t get it out of my mind.  A girl was near me while I was in the midst of the crowd after graduation.  I was talking to someone happily and then turned and I saw her and she smiled at me.  Then later, while talking to Jenna and Tenielle, I saw her looking at me.  I looked at her and she smiled like she had known me forever.

But this sophomore girl has only said four words to me since she came to high school.  Once, in the sight and sound section of Wal-Mart in Sanford, she said “hey.”  The other three words she spoke to me during switch day of my senior year.  She said, “Turn around Jacob” because she wanted to see how I had stuffed my butt to look more like a girl.

This girl is Renee and it is very unlikely that my eyes will ever see her smile again.  I thought of her the rest of the night.

I am leaving tomorrow to go to Virginia.  Everyone else from my graduating class is going to the beach, but that’s just not me.

My collection has grown.  My collection of farewells.

I will miss it.  I will miss them greatly.  It’s hard to know what to say, but all good things must come to an end.

I have a list.

A list of my own.

Schindler had his and I have mine.

His was a list of lives he’d saved.  Mine is simply a list of people I’ve shared existence with.  And I say goodbye to you.

We are the class of 1994.  You have shaped me.  And even those at Chatham Central who are not in the class of 1994, you have shaped me as well.  

Thank you Renee.  

Thank you for smiling at me.  

You made this graduation so wonderful.