May 6, 2000 – Saturday – 1:00 p.m.

I’m at my grandparents’.  I was headed out yesterday to visit Vince and say goodbye before he flew off to Bolivia, but my car broke down near Bottom’s Bridge in New Kent County.  I think I blew the engine.  I’m not sure what is going to happen, but it is nice being here.  I’ve had some time to reflect and think.

Soon I will be 24-years-old.  I am not married, but I’ve found a potential girl.  I’ll soon have a Master’s Degree, and I need to start working.  I have an interview Monday at a place called Acoustic Works.

I’ve watched some old home videos since I arrived here yesterday.  My grandpa always had the latest video camera in his hands while I was growing up.  How amazing to see me as a little boy back in 1987!  God is teaching me something.  I long for the life of pure love and innocence.  Oh, to be a child again.

I’ve come a long way.  High school, college, graduate school, all all the different churches that came with those places.  All the different friends.  Some now lost forever.

And all the different girls.

Cincinatti, Winston-Salem, Metuchen.

All the places I’ve walked.

I’m no longer a student, and that is all my memory has known.

So fix me God.  Prepare me for the next wave.  Send to the place you have prepared for me.

March 23, 1997 – Sunday – 4:15 p.m.

Three years ago on this evening, I was sitting in Abundant Life Christian Center.  Jenna was sitting to the lift of me and I drew a picture of her foot in my Book of Days.  Jenna is now 17 and today I talked with her and her sister on the phone.

May 10, 1997.

October 1, 1997.

The first date is when Jenna will marry a young man named Herb.  The second date is when she will give birth to her first baby.

Jenna is now three months pregnant.

Jenna.

U & I.

The Female Bird.

Jenna.

The girl who always hugged me.  My sister and wonderful friend.  She had sex with a guy I’ve never even met, but I didn’t hear this from Jenna, no I heard it from Tenielle, who just recently got over pneumonia.  She said she cried for five days straight when she found out.

Well, there it is.

Oceans still move.

Waves still crash.

I tried to give advice and speak life to Tenielle, but she basically told me to shut up.  “You haven’t been here Jacob!  You don’t know!  You have no idea.”

And she was right.

I have been here and I know nothing of their life now.  To me, Jenna is still 14.  Tenielle is still 12.  And that ancient girl Veronica will never be anything other than 11.

On May 3, 1994 I wrote:  “My Book of Days will never cease.  I will write until the Lord comes back.  And when I read this stuff when I’m 80, I wonder what I will think.  Will I cry?  Will I know Jenna and Tenielle then?  Christi and Ryan were once important to me and I hardly know them now.  Why do I still mention their names?  Why does Veronica suddenly pop into my head sometimes whenever I’m driving down the road alone?  Is this going to happen the rest of my life?  Or will I forget?”

I don’t need to wait until I’m 80.  Here I am at 20, nearly in tears.

Jenna, no matter what happens, I will still love you and long to hug you.

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!

December 16, 1995 – Saturday – 11:30 p.m.

Our opening night was tonight.

Our last performance is tomorrow night.

The show went really well.  The place was packed and everyone complemented me.

We had rehearsal this morning and then I went with Sharon, Hannah, and Megan to Boone where we went shopping, ate lunch, and saw Toy Story.  I had the greatest time.  Sharon is really nice and she tells me all the time how wonderful a Christian I am and how much I mean to her and other people.  Hannah and Megan were so much fun.  Just two little 10-year-olds without a care in the world.

Afterwards, when I came back here and had dinner with Crystal and Leslie, we went to the show and had a wonderful time performing.  When the show was over, Crystal and Leslie and I played cards up here in Clifton’s room.  They were goofing around and simply being free.  It amazed me.

I mean look at today.

Me, a lanky little boy who grew up in a crossroads called Mt. Vernon Springs, came to this mountain community knowing nothing nor anyone.

And now, in a year and a half’s time, I have found a home.

I feel very comfortable in this house.  I feel so comfortable over at Sharon’s house, and Marty and Stan’s house.

A whole church who backed me up to help me create a marvelous little show.

Before the show started tonight, I recognized about ten people who helped me with this production.  At the end, Pastor Jim said that I mentioned a lot of people but I forgot to mention myself.  So, he did it for me and everyone clapped.

I have come so far.

My mother, stepfather, and Nate come tomorrow.  Kevin cannot make it.  He has an appointment with Pastor Steve about Tenielle, John, and himself.  I talked to him today.

So, about 24 hours from now, I will travel away to a new and different world.  I pray that the Lord use me there to heal some broken hearts.  I can’t wait to see Mike and try to find Jonathan.

A new and old adventure awaits.

June 26, 1995 – Monday – 8:30 p.m.

Work was fun today.

This evening I read a lot out of my screenwriting book.  It made me want to begin to write my own screenplay.  So, I got out all of my old Books of Days and began to look for simple ideas.  What I found were my days with the Emmanuel Players.  It is hard to believe that chapter of my life began to fade away over two years ago.  It was during my junior year at Chatham Central High School.  Remember when I said that if God would let me, I would relive my Junior year over and over and never move on?  I wonder if I still find that true?

I read about Ryan.  I read about Christi.  I even read about Lees-McRae in the Fall of ’93.  That is so hard to believe.  I also read about Veronica.  I remember how close we had gotten right before I left for college on August 27, 1994.  There is a chance I might see her next month.  Tim says they are coming to visit.  Veronica is the same age as Tenielle.  Those days still affect me.

Jason, the director of Emmanuel Players, still inspires me.  I try to believe that it isn’t over, but it is.  I showed Jonathan the picture of all of us taken on taken back in 1992.  Over half of that group I hardly see anymore.

“Isn’t that sad…” I said.

His reply was, “No Jacob, poetically put, that is life.”

And it was then that I realized I would go through the pains of goodbye throughout my whole life.

June 20, 1995 – Tuesday – 10:02 p.m.

Today was my day off.

Jonathan was going to New Bern today to visit his grandmother, so I went with him.  It was three hours away towards the coast.  We had a wonderful time.

Jonathan was born there and grew up there until the 6th grade.  He then moved to Greensboro to stay with his father.  Their house burned down and they moved to Bonlee.  He went to the seventh grade there.  We met and now both of our lives are better.

We did some crazy things.  I bought some shorts, and then we found these “Home Boy 25 cents Bumpin’ Snack Sticks” that we just had to buy.  Who calls beef jerky a “Home Boy 25 cents Bumpin’ Snack Stick?”  I guess it worked though.  The name was so crazy we had to buy it.

I saw the place where Jonathan grew up.  We took some pictures.

And it was a peaceful, simple day.

I had never been to New Bern before.  But, as I looked into the lives of some of the people there, I realized that it was just as great as any other place in the world.

I met new people today.  Relatives of Jonathan who said that he talked about me every time he came home.

He is a faithful friend.

For the past month and a half our family has given him a place he can call home.

This wandering soul with a pierced nose and dyed hair is my best friend.  That is something that takes time.  Something one can’t find just around the corner.

We’ve cried.  We’ve laughed.  We’ve shared.  He brings out parts of me that no one else can.

If I had to…I’d give up my life for that boy.

June 8, 1995 – Thursday – 5:30 p.m.

I worked 10 hours today.

I did the front line for the first seven hours.  While working, I served a girl I once knew.  A girl I knew when I was in the fourth grade.  Her name is Andrea.  I don’t believe I have mentioned her in my journal before.  Even in the fourth grade I remember thinking she was everything.  I told Danny to tell her that I loved her and he did.  She smiled.  The next day she said I was her boyfriend.  Embarrassed, I denied it when a friend asked me.  She was standing right there and was shocked and hurt.

She was very beautiful today.

My hands began to shake.

And then she was gone.

She stared at me in a peculiar way.

Perhaps she recognized me.

Now she is the mother of two.

She is 20-years-old and she lives above a fire station in Bonlee.

She is not married.

I wonder at times if she still thinks about me like I think about her.

June 2, 1995 – Friday – 10:20 p.m.

The Bridges of Madison County opened in theaters today.  After my hard day at work, I decided to go see it this evening.  Mom wanted to go with me, so I let her.  She was excited; she finally got the chance to do something.

It was a wonderful picture.  My mom cried.

As the credits rolled, we went out the exit near the screen, but then we took a wrong door and ended up on the other side of the mall.  We had to walk around

And there, in an isolated and empty parking lot, I walked with my mom, a woman a little over 40, and I asked, “Mom, has Kevin or Nate or I ever stopped you from being who you wanted to be?”

She said, “No, but your father did.”

She began to cry.

Painful memories I suppose.  But it was then that I realized that at one point in my mother’s life, she actually loved my father.  That was so long ago.

I watched her as she pulled her keys out of her purse to unlock the car door and begin her journey towards our home and her world of detail and procedures.

June 2, 1994…if only I knew…

June 2, 1993…I difficult night, but now I don’t know why…

June 2, 1995…my first grade teacher recognized me today at McDonald’s.  It had been 12 years since she last saw me.  How could she have even recognized me?  But to her, she said I hadn’t changed much.

I always hear older people reflecting upon their youth and telling wonderful little stories.

I learned today that all of my youthful little stories have already been conjured up and written down.  The story of how I grew up cannot be re-written.

And now I will lay my down to sleep.  Only to wake up to another day of fast food procedure.

Perhaps there are bridges in Crestview.

March 19, 1995 – Sunday – 10:30 p.m.

I am back in my room at Lees-McRae College.

My first ever college spring break is over.

Let’s talk about Saturday first.  I worked from 6:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.  I had never worked a Saturday morning before.  It was rough.  I ran the front counter and served every kind of person imaginable, including a person who complained because I accidentally touched the top of her cup, a guy who couldn’t speak and could only point and mumble inarticulate words that I couldn’t understand to save my life, and one of the prettiest girls I have ever seen.

The whole time I looked forward to going over to Jenna and Tenielle’s.  After I got off work, I took a shower and then arrived at their house around 3:30 p.m.  The little sleep-over party was continuing.  The guys didn’t sleep over though.  One guy named Moises had come over earlier that morning.  He is a Hispanic guy, really dark and handsome.  Tenielle likes him.  I can tell.

Other girls left and it was just myself, Jenna, Tenielle, Sunny, and a friend of their’s named Brandy.  Brandy is a beautiful 14-year-old girl.  We both got along with each other.  Hopefully I will see her again in the future.

We messed around for a while, then we decided to go to the skating ranch.

I had called Christi while I was there, just to see if she was going to be home that day.  She was, so I told her I was going to come and see her later in the evening.  I also wanted to borrow the roller blades.  So, I took the four girls to Wal-Mart because they didn’t want to go with me.  Then I drove over to Christi’s and she was out on the porch with her mom and dad.  They were scraping old paint off of the front door so they could repaint it.

A few minutes after I arrived, Hank and Patti went in and it was just Christi and I.  We talked for 30 minutes.  I can’t remember exactly what we talked about, but we generally talked about the past, the future, her brothers, our friends, and ourselves.  I got the roller blades and told her that I would be back tonight to drop them off.

So, I picked up the girls; they were happy to see me.  We soon learned, once we got to the skating ranch, that each of us was a dollar short, so we went back to Jenna and Tenielle’s house.  We ate ice cream, played Nintendo, and talked.  Some boy kept calling Jenna, so I got on the phone and said, “This is the operator, deposit 50 cents or hang up in three minutes!”

He hung up.  We all got a good laugh.  Sunny had to leave, so for the last hour, it was just myself, plus Jenna and Tenielle and Brandy.

They are so wonderful!  We always have the greatest time together.  Nothing can separate us.  Not even a three and a half hour drive.

At 9:45 p.m., I gave them all hugs and said a short goodbye, thinking I would see them again in the morning.

When I got to Christi’s, they were watching The Client.  Two older guys were in the living room with Christi and Hank.  Christi introduced me to them and I took a seat.  Once the movie was over, the guys said goodbye and left.  I was 11 o’clock, so I figured I would do the same.  I stood up and Hank said, “Where are you going?” and he pushed me back down in the chair.  And then he left!

Christi asked if I had fun skating and I told her we didn’t go and why.  She asked about how I know Jenna and Tenielle and also how old they were.  She had known them two years ago, but I had never met them then.  I told her about how wonderful our friendship is.  Then we started talking about movies and college.  She talked about her brothers some more.  I told her about myself and the way I thought.  She told me that I was scaring her because she thought and did things the exact same way I did.  She told me about some of her views.  We talked about the past and the churches we attend now.  I told her that her dad had once encouraged me to ask her out.  She was shocked.  We then talked about the jobs we had had in the past.  I told her about Charlie and she told me about how her and Ryan used to be and how they are now; not as close it seems.

All in all, we talked about change.  That one constant element that floods our lives:  change.

After what felt like only a few brief moments, I asked her what time it was.  She said, “1:20 a.m.”

I got home at 2:00 in the morning.  In fact it was this morning.

Earlier today at church, I talked to Marcus and Cheryl a little bit.  I said a few words to Pastor Steve.  And I waited patiently for Jenna and Tenielle to show up, but they never did.  When I got back to the house I called them and they said they simply didn’t wake up in time.  So I said my goodbyes, but with Jenna and Tenielle, I am always certain that I will see them again.

Henry, Mom, and Nate brought me here and we all went to church together at Heaton tonight.  It was nice to see Charlie and Dan and Clifton and Molly and Crystal and everybody else.

After my parents left, Charlie and Dan and I watched an old Andy Griffith movie called, No Time for Sergeants.

And now I am in my room.

Saturday, March 18th, 1995 was a wonderful day!

Christi and I are so much alike, but as I talked to her for over two hours last night I didn’t think of her as someone I liked, but instead I thought of her as a friend I needed.

But all of this I know I will appreciate more in two years.

March 18th, 1995 will do what all the days do.  It will fade away out of my reality and into my memory.

Everything fades away.

Fades away….

December 19, 1994 – Monday – 10:45 a.m.

I am in my room here at Lees-McRae.  In two days I will go to Siler City, North Carolina.

Siler City.

Sanford.

Mt. Vernon Springs.

Two years ago I went caroling with the youth group.  Jason was our youth pastor then.  I wonder how he is doing.  I’m sure he is still doing theatre.  The last time I saw him was the end of August.  It’s the end of December now.

The end of 1994.

1995.

I never thought it would happen.

The past.

Do I long for it?

Jeni thinks I do.

Jeni.

Who is Jeni.

There are times when I don’t know.  But I love this girl, even though we are strangers.

One year ago, I hadn’t know Jenna and Tenielle for very long.  I didn’t know how I felt about either one of them.

Mr. Benton told me one thing that was assured to happen in life was change.  And as I said a year ago; he was right.

Who is Ryan?

A girl here named Tammy has the Far and Away soundtrack.  I copied the music for the mask skit from her.

Yesterday we performed the A Few Good Men scene.  Everyone liked it and said I did a great job.

It snowed a little up on Beech Mountain.  It is snow capped.  It’s very pretty.

I will leave at 2:00 p.m. on Wednesday the 21st.  Also, on the 21st I will change rooms.  I’m going to have a single room for next semester.  I will live on the same hall, just down on the end.  Charlie will still be my RA.  I’m glad.

Home.

What is home?

Is this home?

Is Abundant Life Christian Center my home?

I want to see Christi and Jason, Jenna and Tenielle, Marcus and Jonathan.

Here at Lees-McRae, milk is flowing all around me.

Here at Lees-McRae, I am me.

All of these new faces.

All of these new names.

All of these new people I now love.

What am I here to do?

As for right now, I simply want to see my old friends for a few days, then begin 1995 with Jeni, spend the rest of my life with her and become a filmmaker while I glorify God every day.

But it will not be that simple.  This road I am walking on will take me many places.

Many places before I get to heaven.

And you’ll get to read about them.