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.

December 30, 1999 – Thursday – 1:30 p.m.

It is nearing closing time for the 1990s.  Well, for the 1900s, for that matter.  Wow, and even for the 1000s.

I’m listening to the nine compilation tapes I’ve made since 1993.  I’m simply celebrating and saying goodbye to the decade in which I came of age and learned who I was.

Seven years ago I was thinking about Veronica while Marie was finishing her first semester at Easter College.  That seems unbelievable to me.

Part of me regrets being so childish at the age of 16, but I am now 23, and it seems there is nothing wrong with staying a child just a little while longer.

Six years ago I was dreaming about Emily.

Five years ago I was realizing that life was changing and that the past never again could be.

Four years ago I was remembering only the love of the mid-90s.

Three years ago I was visiting old friends in High Falls, NC and then slept through the final hours of 1996, missing Christi’s birthday party.

Two years ago I was contemplating over Sarah.

And last year I was sitting in a small RV, reflecting back on a year of transition.

In between each of those years, I wrote out my hearts and thoughts in these pages.  I often wonder if through that process I am creating a trap for myself.  Am I forging memories that I’ll never be able to escape from?

No matter.  As I look back on 1999, every action I took lead me to Marie, and she is all I want now.

The emotion of the past is losing its value in its battle with the present.

Moments in my younger years that would have taken up pages of journaling are hardly mentioned now.  I want to focus more now on my identity in Christ.  Hopefully, that change will take place.

There is a day and I half left in the ’90s.  Thank you Lord for these years.  Thank you for Chatham Central, Abundant Life, Lees-McRae, Heaton, Regent, and Parkway.  Thank you for North Carolina.

Thank you for forgiving me for all of my mistakes.  Thank you for redeeming me.  Thank you for my faith.  I see now that I do not own anything here.  Everything belongs to you.  Help me to move forward in all that you have prepared and to not live in this decade any longer.

Thank you for both the old and the new.

October 6, 1999 – Wednesday – 11:50 p.m.

It is close to midnight between the 6th and 7th of October.

I just visited with Mary Jo.  Rob asked her to marry him.  She said yes.  She told me the whole story.  It was completely romantic.

So that is about four weddings next summer; five if Charlie and Kate decide to tie the knot.

I’m beginning a five-section notebook.  It has been over two years since I’ve done that.  I’ve decided that after I finish this third half-dozen that I’m going to just write in my journal like the last one and let them title themselves.  But I may change my mind.  You never know.

I’ve been writing my thesis paper.  I taught a class at church tonight as well.  Emily emailed me and I emailed her back.  It is a new form of communication for us.  So, I guess I didn’t end our story after all.

Sixteen Books of Days now.

Lord may your will be done in my life.  May that always be what I write down in these pages.

 

August 20, 1999 – Friday – 1:30 p.m.

I feel haunted by every moment.  Memories of these days here in Virginia Beach have already begun to linger in my mind and heart.  It seems I live every moment knowing it will never be again.  I do believe that true love lasts forever.  Veronica, Jeni, Emily, Sarah, these loves did not last forever.  Who they are now is not the person I once knew.  I’m sure I too have changed.

The summer is slowly closing, and I wish I could be back in the arms of Mary.  I wish I could sit above the city of dreams and overlook L.A.  I wish I could wake up once more under the thin slice of the Vermont moon.

I am missing days I haven’t even entered.

Oh to be 22 again.  To have just returned from Africa, to be working with the beautiful Dawn, to be sitting in class talking about movies, to be directing fifteen teens in a Christmas show.

I visited eleven new states while I was 22.

I miss the wife I have yet to meet.  Forgive me for looking for you in others’ hearts.

I want to sleep in the arms of the one who knows me.

June 19, 1999 – Saturday – 11:30 p.m.

I’m in Buckingham, VA exactly six years after the first time I met Emily.  This has been a very good day.  Our Master’s Commission team met at Parkway Temple and drove to Richmond.  There we met up with Mary and were trained in rock climbing.  Mary and I have been talking all day and she is simply amazing.  I’m just floored by her.  Thank you God for her.  These three weeks will be fantastic, mainly because I will be near her.  This time with her is a gift from God.

Mary is the mentor for the girls and I’m the mentor for the guys.  Their names are Corey, Matt, and Seth.  Camp starts tomorrow night.  It is simply wonderful to be here.

I love you Jesus.

March 27, 1999 – Saturday – 6:26 p.m.

Matt has gone home for a week, so I took advantage of him not being here to tidy everything up a bit.

As always, it has put me in a retrospective mood.

My collection is so large.

I received a letter from Emily a couple of days ago.  She was assuming I was angry with her.  She asked me to write her back and I did.  I wrote her back on the back of the letter she sent me and said that who she was in my mind and heart was more amazing than who she was in reality.  I told her my heart no longer wants to pursue her and that we should not pretend to be something that we are not.  I let her know I will always be her pen pal if ever she needs me.  Along with the letter, I returned a small heart she once mailed me long ago.

And that is perhaps the end of six-year-long story that has held a corner of my heart.

And probably always will.

Yesterday, Kirstin helped me video my project for editing class.  It was so much fun.  I cannot believe I get to do this work.

Today there was a birthday party for Jason and the youth group is hanging out again tonight at the YMCA.  I hate to leave my retrospective words right now, but I’m late!

February 13, 1999 – Saturday – 10:43 p.m.

I began writing in these books nearly six years ago for a reason of which I am not really sure.  I only remember beginning them.  When I search myself for the most honest answer, all I can say is that I did it for myself.  Not for the person I was then, but for the person I knew I would become after reading about the time and place which formed me….and to read about it in my own hand.

And thus far, it has all brought me to this day, this hour, this minute.

I have just returned from a True Love Waits rally in Williamsburg, VA, a town I’ve spent many hours in over the years, for it is where we would go when I visited my dad’s side of the family in my earlier days.  My brother Kevin was there.  He’s 24 and looks nothing like it.  He handed me Christmas presents from people I didn’t see since I went chasing after my long lost pen pal, my family of old, and the revival everyone’s been talking about.

I drove one of two Parkway Temple vans to our destination and back tonight.  I used to be one of the kids always riding in the van, but now I’m the one driving it.

Our team performed Masks tonight.  This short vignette is very dear to my heart and has been in existence for nearly as long as these journals.  And I see now what these writings have done for me.  They help me examine my thoughts and feelings and help me remove all the false masks that try to cling to me each day.

There is no doubt that these entries have tremendously aided in forming who I am today.

For today, I am a free man.

And yesterday, on the 12th day of the 2nd month of 1999, I think I met her.

I left youth group a little early last night to attend the swing dance at Regent University.  During one dance where all the girls lined up on one side and the guys on the other, I walked towards a girl and met her in the middle.  There, we found ourselves; my arm around her back, our hands in each other’s, her hand on my shoulder.

We moved to the music.

“What’s your name?”

“Amy, yours?”

“Jacob.  Nice to meet you.”

January 4, 1999 – Monday – 2:00 p.m.

I am now at the Pensacola airport.  It’s the fourth day of 1999.  It’s not just the end of a decade, but the end of a century.  Knowledge feels rampant, but love feels scares.  I do not know what this year will hold, but I will worship the Lord throughout.

There is a small flock of birds scattered amongst the clouds.  It’s a good day to fly.

I want to be a good student and a good friend this semester.  All of that is much harder than it sounds.  I want to live right.  I’m so thankful to be away from Sarah, and I no longer want to mess with Emily.  I want to start afresh.

I told my good friends at Lees-McRae that I would come visit during my spring break, but I think it might be bad for me to go back.  I do not belong there anymore.  I doubt I will have the money anyway.

Well, they just announced my flight was delayed.  I have to go check something out…

 

December 31, 1998 – Thursday – 12:30 p.m.

It is the last day of the year.  Happy Birthday Christi!

And it is nearly the last day of the century.

Emily and I never went to a movie on Monday.  She left a message here on Wednesday night saying she had been in Atlanta for the past two days and now she is back in Tallahassee.  I flew down here from Virginia to see her and she goes to Atlanta, yet she writes letters to me saying, “In a perfect world, I could smell the salt of your skin.”

It doesn’t make any sense.  I want our story to be over.

So 1999 will begin soon.  I am going to spend the final night of this year at Brownsville Assembly of God.

Last night mom and I went to visit a local church and we ended up at Glad Tidings Assembly of God in Pace, FL.  There I met the oldest resident of Santa Rosa county.  She is 105 years old.

I often think that because I take the time to write my thoughts down on these blank pages that I’ve figured life out.  But then I look into the eyes of someone born in the 1890s and realize I don’t know anything.  She was all there too.  She had the clearest mind.  Oh God, may I get there some day.

I’ve found myself dreaming of Virginia Beach and Chesapeake.  It has happened again.  Another home has come.  I long for it now more than my mountains.

Oh Lord, don’t ever let me go.

I spent the first days of this year in Siler City and Sanford, then months in Banner Elk where I spent time with Sarah who decided to let me go before I would have to let her go.  I played Billy Bibbit on stage, spent a week in Kentucky, a weekend in Tampa, and thousand of moments with the greatest humans on the earth: Vince, Allen, Dan, Curtis, Tracey, Abigail, Ann-Marie, Josh, Ashley, Justin, Jessica, Lindy, Jeni and many more.  Jenny got married.  I graduated.  And I spent a month driving back and forth to Winston-Salem trying to hold onto a girl I knew was fading away.  I raised some money, flew to Africa, and returned to a brand new world of Christin, Sterling, and Kimberly; a world I now greatly miss.

I saw God move in South Africa, but as I grow older, I realize God is moving everywhere.

In addition to my one-act in the early months of the year, I also directed a beautiful Christmas show at Parkway Temple.  Regent allowed me to work on many film projects, and of course there was my job at the bookstore.  I visited Lynchburg, and now I am here in Milton, FL, where I rode with mom to New Orleans and saw the coast line in between.

I am 22-years-old.

The days are not getting any easier.

The days are not getting any longer.

All I can do is grab the hand of Jesus on one side of me, grab the hand of a good friend on the other side, and hope the rock on which we stand will remain.

The first days of 1999 will begin as the last days of 1998 are ending.  I’ll be attending the famous Brownsville Revival.

I fly out on the fourth and will land in the arms of Christin, for she is picking me up from the airport.

If all goes well, I hope to spend most of my days in Virginia Beach and Chesapeake during the final months of the century, for I have a very acute feeling that I won’t be there very long.

Heaven will be nice.

There are no goodbyes there.

December 29, 1998 – Tuesday – 9:30 a.m.

It is nearing the end of the year.  I rest in Milton, Florida, USA, and these days force me to look back.

Nineteen Hundred Ninety-Eight.

Thoughts of Sarah, as well as saying goodbye to Lees-McRae, took up the first six months. I still long for that place, but I’m secretly and silently afraid to go back to visit, for I fear I might ruin it’s impact on my life and my heart.

There was a month of transition in the middle of this year through which I visited Texas and South Africa, with brief stops in New York and Miami.  Those were such perfect days.  I wish I could go back and stay in them a little longer, for they were simply too short.

Virginia Beach, Regent University, and Parkway Temple all immediately fell into my lap and my heart.  It seemed as though my collection grew overnight, and now it is the only home I long for.

I am enjoying my time off here, but my parents’ marriage, my stepfather’s need to explain everything, and my mother’s non-displays-of-affection towards her husband and myself still shock and hurt me.  I simply do not understand.  I stay silent.

Emily said she would call yesterday.  She did not.  She reminds me of Sarah.

I just want to do it right.  I want a true and simple love.

The tiny smile of Christin is all I need.

Since my first semester of graduate school is over, it is time to pick the most cherished moments of that time.  There are only two, and I was fully aware they were perfect moments while they were happening.

The first was on November 28, 1998, the Saturday evening I spent with Tracey.  It was the moment during Riverdance in which a gentlemen played a beautiful bagpipe sort of instrument and the entire world stopped.  The music brought peace to the entirety of my days and perfect love to my heart.  I had an old friend by my side and even older memories in my mind.  I had just seen Vince and Allen, a beautiful sunset, and fantastic fireworks.

Perfection.

The next one took place during the early morning hours of December 13, 1998.  My Heart Will Go On played over the credits of Titanic.  Sterling was asleep on one side of me, and Christin was asleep on the other.  Her beautiful face was on my chest and my fingers were in her hair.

Perfection.

And so, a few days of this year remain.

Can 1999 be so close?

What is happening to this world?

Jesus, you are my shelter.

You are all I seek.

Please guide me.