April 10, 2001 – Tuesday – 4:00 p.m.

I just got off the phone with Lindy, easily one of the best friends I’ll ever have. I feel like my insides are going to explode. Everything is coming to the most amazing ending, and an entire universe is beginning.

The week of the wedding is going to be full of complete emotional ecstasy. There is much history and so many stories that will collide together for the moment Anna and I join our lives together. I will pick Vince up from the Miami airport, then we will drive up the coast for four hours after not seeing each other for over a year. Nearly all of Lees-McRae and Banner Elk, NC is dying to see him, and he will be there in when they all arrive on Thursday for the wedding on Saturday. Over 15 Lees-McRae friends are making the 11 hour trip south. Marcus is coming, as well as Danny and Peter, they are all bringing friends along.

Abigail is going to sing. Tracey is going to play piano. Vince, Lindy, and Dan will be standing next to me. I’ll share the weekend with all my friends, then drive away with Anna.

Anna just showed up. Gotta go!

February 6, 2001 – Tuesday – 7:58 a.m.

One hundred nine days remain.

Spring want so desperately to begin here in Virginia, but winter is standing firm. It is going to be a busy spring. I’ve got two films to finish, wrap up my thesis, graduate from graduate school, get married, go on my honeymoon, and those are just the big events. There are so many little videos I need to complete between now and then, plus I’m still working in the bookstore and planning the wedding.

Life is fun.

Anna and I spend most of our time discussing our future together. We’ve talked of moving to so many places, everywhere from North Carolina to Montana. Who knows where we will end up, but I sure like discussing my future with her.

I’m so excited to marry her. I love her more than I thought possible. In 109 days I will die and be reborn. She is not my savior, but God will change me on that day.

Vince is trying his best to come up from Bolivia. I miss all my Lees-McRae friends. I’m so thankful for that season of my life.

Four year there, ’94-’98, and nearly three years here, ’98-01.

In 11 days I will be 24 and a half years old.

October 20, 2000 – Friday – 6:07 p.m.

Much has happened. Rosie is in a box, stuck to a sticky mousetrap pad, in a garbage bag, in a garbage can, outside the Regent Village. She escaped while I was cleaning her cage and it took Dan and I two days to catch her through a horrible ordeal. I just couldn’t have a huge rat roaming free, so I eventually trapped her, and well, Rosie is gone. Still alive at the moment, but gone nevertheless. Those “humane” rat traps aren’t very humane at all.

Our first college age small group was last night and that cute girl I’ve been noticing showed up. Now I can’t get her out of my head. I contemplated calling her up and asking her to do something, but I’m pretty sure I’ll chicken out. Ugh!

The footage from The Accuser came back and it looks fantastic!

Okay God, to call or not to call…

Hmm.

September 1, 2000 – Friday – 4:00 p.m.

I left after work last night and arrived here just before midnight.  So, ‘August and everything after’ actually begins here in Banner Elk.  Perfect.

Curtis and Megan and I stayed here in Dan’s new place.  I’m here now, just chillin’ and listening to Caedmon’s Call.

Mason and Marisa are back up here for school.  I went to visit Mason after Dan, Curtis, Allen and I went to Johnson City, TN to pick up our Tuxedos.  It was a fun little trip down the mountain.  I do love my friends.

While in Mason’s room I called Sarah, yes my old Sarah.  She came over and we found the time to go for a walk before she had to be in Highlanders.

The things we both said were beautiful.  She apologized.  I apologized.  We talked about rainbows.  I felt my heart beating loudly inside me.  I haven’t felt that in a very long time.  My eyes never left her as she performed during Highlanders.  Oh God, don’t let me get too weird while I’m here for this wedding.  You are changing Sarah, and I don’t want to get in the way.

The morning was spent with Dan’s family in a cottage near a place where I used to walk. I feel reborn.  I feel different.  I feel changed.  Thank you Jesus for this new beginning and may we do it again tomorrow.

Be with Sarah.  If it is your will, allow us to go for another walk again tonight.

Thank you for this weekend Jesus.  I love your forgiveness and salvation.

August 4, 2000 – Friday – 11:45 a.m.

I’m sitting on a slanted picnic table in a park near the Library and Community Center of Sterling, Virginia.  I left at 7:30 this morning to drive up here, because someone associated with a sister company of Acoustic Works is going to train me on Dreamweaver.

My meeting isn’t until 1:00 p.m., but I left early just to spend some time alone in a new town.  Three kids are playing loudly on the playground near me.  I’m glad they are happy.

I received Dan and Abigail’s wedding invitation in the mail.  It makes me both happy and sad.  Only Vince and I have yet to get married, and he is in Bolivia.

After Dan and Abigail’s wedding, I wonder if I should stop visiting Banner Elk.  I can so easily get stuck in the past.  It may be better for me to not see that land for a while.

. . .

I’ve sat here in silence for a while now.  I fear I have a broken heart.  I feel Jeni, Sarah, Emily, and Marie have each broken it in their own slight way.  But most of all, I feel I have broken it as well.

An older woman just brought two little blonde girls down to the playground, but then she turned around and walked away after she saw three Black kids playing on it.  And now the two white girls are sad and asking a bunch of questions.  They don’t understand why they can’t play.

Such a sight makes me so thankful I grew up with Marcus, Danny, and Peter.  And that I even had a Black youth pastor for a while.

Life seems to get harder as I grow older.  As a child, I would have never noticed the subtle racism I just experienced.

Jesus, you are my savior.  Am I living fully in your salvation?  Am I accepting all your mercy and forgiveness?  All I want is you.

When it comes down to it, I just want that treehouse covered in snow with the Braveheart soundtrack in my ear.  I want you all around me like that.

Can I have that everyday?

I just realized this is my second time in Sterling, VA.  The first time was with Rachel’s mom when she brought me up to Chrysalis in 1997.  In fact, that was exactly three years ago, for I remember it was in early August.

Is there any love left in me?

It feels like I’m losing all my friends.  I can never have Banner Elk and Lees-McRae again, so I should stop looking and waiting for it.

Do you still have a plan for me God?

Thank you for the leaf that just floated down and sat next to me.  I want more quiet moments alone with you.

Please don’t send me a girl if she’ll only distract me from you, or if I’ll distract her from you as well.  Too many hearts have been bruised.  I want to give all of my heart to you.

July 15, 2000 – Saturday – 3:40 p.m.

I’m not doing too well.  I sent Lindy an email, just explaining the sad condition of my heart, all I wanted was to be understood, but her reply was just telling me to shut up and get over it.

I feel those still in Banner Elk just don’t understand.  No one has left yet.  They are still surrounded by all their friends and they don’t know what it is to be alone in their 20s.  My best friends here are teenage girls (Sterling, Kimberly, Christin), and I have two nice colleagues at work (Dan and Jean), and I get along with my roommate Dan, but I really miss all the Regent film students.  I wish I could see them everyday like I used to, but I just don’t have class anymore.  I feel after I attend Dan and Abigail’s wedding that I should just let Banner Elk be.  It only hurts to try and hold on to it.

I don’t seem to make sense to people at work.  They make fun of me a lot, especially those who work in sales or who work in the warehouse.  Most of them are non-Christians.  Oh well.  It’s never really been any different, so I don’t know why it surprises me when someone thinks I’m odd.  It would probably more weird if someone viewed me as just an average dude.

I wish it was winter.  I wish it was Sunday so I could visit Forefront.  I haven’t been to a regular church service in so long.  I miss God’s touch.

June 10, 2000 – Saturday – 10:32 p.m.

I have just arrived back from Allen and Jessica’s wedding.  It was this morning during the  sunrise on the shores of Wildcat Lake near Lees-McRae.  My roommate Dan came with me; we rode with Justin, who is working up on the Eastern Shore this summer as a boat captain at a camp.  I was a groomsman, and it was a beautiful wedding.  It was so wonderful to see everyone, but Vince wasn’t there since he was down in Bolivia.

I even saw Sarah.  She had just returned from London and Paris.  She’s doing great!

Dan (not my roommate) and I had a great talk as we slept outside under the stars.  He and Abigail will marry on September 2nd.  Charlie and Kate’s wedding is in two weeks.

I learned so much this weekend.  It was very freeing to be around my friends, but it hurt Dan (my roommate) in perhaps the same way it hurt Marie.  On the drive back he confessed that he wished he hadn’t come along, for seeing me with my college buddies made him feel like he didn’t really have any good friends at all.

I thought everyone had a college experience similar to my own, but perhaps I was one of the lucky ones.

April 28, 2000 – Friday – 7:53 a.m.

April is ending.  As are many other things.  I am no longer a full-time student, and Marie and I have just come through a really difficult time.

I think the past week really traumatized me, so much so that I can hardly remember the harsh words that were spoken to me.  I feel my mind is trying to forever forget them, like a scab covering a wound and allowing new skin to grow.  I’m tempted to not write about this at all, but I should put something down in these pages.

Clearly hurt and rejected after spending a week with my friends in North Carolina, a vulnerable Marie and I visited her family.  And while they are kind in action, I didn’t have a great time these past few days in New Jersey, one, because I was sick, and two, because there just wasn’t an abundance of joy and peace, at least not when you compare it to the amount of joy and peace in all my friends in Banner Elk.  So, once we headed back to Virginia, all of that pain and defensiveness bubbled up in Marie, and she became very critical toward me and of all my friends.

She said it was unnatural and immoral of me to have as many female friends as I do.  And, as if that didn’t hurt enough, she then accused me of only being involved with the youth group at Parkway because I was sexually attracted to all the girls in the youth group.  She said that my friendship with girls like Sterling, Christin, and Kimberly was inappropriate and that I should be ashamed of myself.

Much more was said, many more stabs were taken at my heart, but I pulled off the road, got out of the car and found a distant ball park, where I sat on the bleachers and stared off into the landscapes of Delaware, trying to make sense of what had just happened with this girl I want to marry.

I don’t know if I’ve ever been more hurt.  Sterling, Christin, and Kimberly and their families and I all adore each other.  We are fellow believers together.  They take care of me, I like spending time with them, and yes Christin crushed on me for a while, but nothing ever happened.  I took her to her prom and I didn’t even kiss her.  The whole reason I didn’t pursue a relationship with her was because she was too young.  I sat there alone for a long time, and eventually heard from the Lord that Marie’s accusations were false.

So, I returned to the car.  By the look on her face, it was clear she knew she was out of line.  She apologized.  We drove home.

I prayed silently as we drove, and God gave me a very clear answer that I love my friends, and the fact that many of them are women is not a sin.  What Marie said to me reveals much more about her heart and mindset than it did mine, and, after spending a week with her family, it’s clear to see that she was raised in such a negative and narrow mindset.  We both got to experience where each of us came from these past two weeks, and the fact that we both came from two different words really broke us.  She felt like she didn’t belong with my group of friends and possibly even felt like she doesn’t have as good of friends as I do, and I felt rejected by (and bored with) her family.

So there it is.  God is breaking us.  Or maybe he’s sharpening us.

Perhaps this will make us a stronger couple than we were before.  Perhaps we won’t be able to recover from this.  Time will tell.

April 21, 2000 – Friday – 8:05 a.m.

I’m in Metuchen, New Jersey again.  And my recent days have been a learning experience.  On the 15th Marie and I drove to Banner Elk.  We visited Tracey’s and Lindy’s first.  Everyone heard we were there and then almost suddenly their living room was full of nearly 20 dear friends wanting to see me.   That was a bit overwhelming for Marie since most of them were girls.  Sarah even showed up and hugged me tightly.

Saturday night we saw Hamlet on campus.  What a wonderful production!  It had one of the most ambitious sets I’ve ever seen on that stage.  On Sunday morning we went to Banner Elk Christian Fellowship, then to hike on Grandfather Mountain, then to visit Leslie and her family, and then to visit Heaton, then to visit Sharon and her girls, and it was just a huge day.  And when I say “we,” I don’t mean Marie and I, I mean everyone, all my dear friends.  Needless to say, Marie got placed aside a bit.  I tried to get her to join in on the fun, but she didn’t.

We talked that evening, and she cried.  She cried because she felt so lonely.  She felt there was this huge world that she had to compete with.  And the next three days passed in that same fashion.  One of those days we drove with Sharon down to Asheville, and we realized that this world of Lees-McRae had already been defined for me.  I knew this place without Marie.  It felt natural for me to cling to them while in this land, for I had no memory of ever clinging to Marie in these mountains.

Marie’s world is three family-members.

Mine is 25 friends.

I never realized how unique my college experience was until I saw it overwhelm another soul.

I still got to see everyone and get caught up.  Curtis and Megan came down.  It was so weird to see them married.  Dan was there for two days, then he left to go snorkeling in the Florida Keys.  Vince is leaving on the 8th of May for Bolivia.  Allen is marrying Jessica in June.  Abigail and Tracey’s band is doing wonderful in the area.  Ann-Marie is moving down to Florida after graduation to work in a repertory theater.  Charlie and Kate are getting married on June 24th.

It was the last time Dan, Allen, Vince, Curtis, and myself would be together for at least the next two years.  And who knows… maybe forever.

Marie and I learned much about ourselves during our five days in Banner Elk.  We left on Thursday to drive up here to New Jersey.  We took the Blue Ridge Parkway until Roanoke and looked at that city a bit.  Then we took the Skyline Drive to Front Royal.

The drive through Shenandoah was beautiful and misty.  Then we drove through parts of Pennsylvania that I’ve never seen before.  I came down with a horrible head cold during the drive, and so here I am super sick in New Jersey.  I think they want to take me to their family doctor.

September 16, 1999 – Thursday – 6:49 p.m.

This has been a lonely day even though I spent some good hours with Dan, Theresa, and Amy from the bookstore.  The power went out and we got together to play a board game.

I have a bit of a headache.  My neighbors above me have really heavy footsteps.  I wish it would snow, so I could feel quiet and clean.  I wish I could ride horses against a Kentucky sunset.

David, my roommate, is as introverted as Matt.  I knocked on his door earlier and asked if I could come in and he said “no.”  His door is always closed to me.

Abigail and Jeni have recently had birthdays.  September is half over.  Then only three months left.  Some days I get so scared.  It all seems so big.  But there are other days in which being alive is the easiest thing there is.

I had a neat conversation with a Greek named Bill last night.  I was the first to get deep into his soul since he’s come to Regent.  He told me I’m the first and only person he has met who seems well rounded in all the gifts.  I’m not exactly sure what that means, but it was nice.

I also pitched “To Fly” on Monday.  Afterwards I was complemented by so many classmates telling me I was an amazing writer.  Why am I still so lonely here?  Was I this lonely at Lees-McRae?  I must like the wide spaces the mountains provided, it gave my heart room to grow.

Jesus, it is so hard to share you.  I feel like you’re all mine.  It feels like you spend all your time with me.  How can you be in my room and in David’s as well?  How can your spirit pour while I’m at church and also while I’m alone?  Can you be the leader of this dance?

I don’t know where to take you that you haven’t already been.