July 11, 1997 – Friday – 11:55 p.m.

I’m at Deep Creek.  Charlie got a call earlier today from Jason.  He was here the first semester of my Freshman year.  Well, he only lives 30 minutes down the road, so he met up with us and is going camping with us.

We set up camp, then drove to Cherokee and did some Go-Kart racing and played miniature golf.  We also drove on the Blue Ridge Parkway and told scary stories.

But on the way back, Allen bought some little cigars and he and Vince have been smoking.  Well, I guess they say they are only puffing on them, but I’m not sure of the difference.  Perhaps I’m weird, but it makes me uncomfortable.  I left and went on a walk.  When I came back, they wanted to go for a walk.  I was angry with them because of the cigars and for the fact that they peed on the ground and not in the restroom.  I’ve been coming here for several years and I know beautiful young girls like Emily walk around on this holy ground in their bare feet.  I couldn’t believe they would pee on the ground a few feet from the restroom.  Who does that?

While on my walk, I was flooded with memories.  Although it’s only been four years since I came here with Danny, Peter, Marcus, and Kevin, they are the ones who fit this place the best.  My dear friends I’m with now don’t know the unspoken rules of this place.  They don’t know how it’s supposed to work or how it’s supposed to feel.

While walking, I remembered precious moments with Syndi and Emily.  I even remembered the days with Brandon and all he did was flirt with every girl he saw.  Jonathan came with me once.  Then all the family reunions I’ve had here.

But I think I had the most fun with Syndi.  This land will always be tied to those precious days of us walking hand in hand in these woods.

These guys here now simply don’t belong.  They have no idea.  They don’t know what each mountain tree and rock means to me.  This place is my home; as much as any other place in the world.

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June 19, 1997 – Thursday – 11:37 p.m.

Vacation Bible School has both begun and ended since my last entry.  I was in charge of the dramatic elements.  I wrote a play and played the main character.  It went well.  The kids seemed to love it.  This evening Vince and I went over to Sharon’s.  Hannah and I played a lot of games.  Simple fun!

Four years ago on this historic day, I was saying goodbye to Emily at Deep Creek near Bryson City, NC.  There are some things in life that can’t be explained.  Emily is one of them.  She is my life’s great mystery.

June 8, 1997 – Sunday – 5:23 p.m.

Yeah baby!  The weekend was so great!  I am a Promise Keeper!!  A stadium of 60,000 Christian men singing praises to one God!  A night spent in a beautiful Victorian Bed & Breakfast!  Charlie, Vince, and Allen right next to me, plus new friends I made from the trip!  Whew, walls were torn down.

Redemption!  I am free at last!

I will live in purity.  I will read, pray, and fellowship!  I am alive in Christ!!

When I returned home I read chapter 17 from Max Lucado’s God Came NearEternal Instants.  You know, the moments so perfect that the whole universe stands still to notice.  I can think of many right now, and I’ve only been alive for a little over 20 years.

Sitting in the treehouse on Hemlock Hill on a snowy night listening to Braveheart.

Crystal rubbing my neck at the drive-in in Tennessee.

Talking to Emily under the boardwalk in Ft. Walton Beach.

Touching Abigail’s face in McAlister room 206 on Lees-McRae’s campus.

Kissing Jeni in Cincinnati, Ohio while listening to The Wedding Song by Kenny G.

Playing underneath the full moon with Dan and Allen on the back side of Grandfather Mountain.

Holding a curled up Tenielle on her bathroom floor.

Performing “The Mask Skit” at Abundant Life Christian Center.

Eating Wheat Thins and slowly falling asleep next to Jessica under God’s open starry sky.

Playing water guns with Jonathan, Mike, Marcus, and Kevin.

Tubing down Deep Creek with Danny and Peter.

Holding Syndi under the waterfall.

Passing a car in the turning lane with Jonathan.

Helping a lost boy find his mother at Fishnet.

Playing Myst with Vince in New York.

Helping Ryan in and out of the corner tree.

Standing next to the Grand Canyon with Brandon.

Graduating high school and seeing Renee smile at me.

Signing my way through Children of A Lesser God.

Singing with 60,000 men in Knoxville.

And that eternal instant right before I fall asleep each night, when I reflect on the beauty of each amazing day!

Oh wait, and how could I forget, perhaps the most perfect moment of all, riding back from Tennessee with Sharon as Hannah fell asleep in my lap.

May 28, 1997 – Wednesday – 10:45 p.m.

I watched Ben-Hur today.  I cried so hard.  Wonderful, wonderful, wonderful!  I love you more now Jesus.

I also worked a little in the summer theater box office, getting it ready, etc.  Church was nice tonight.  Hannah has become a wonderful little friend.  She is 11-years-old now, the age Veronica used to be.  Oh, how young I must have been when I was 16.

We went out to eat after the service and I tried to pay for my meal, but Sharon wouldn’t have it.  That family has taken such good care of me these page three years.

It’s hard to know what to write these days.  Vince and Allen and I are the only ones on campus.  We have this whole place to ourselves it feels.  Dan will arrive in a little over a month.  Curtis may never return.

Charlie and Kate are still together and seem to be doing well.

I have been at Heaton long enough to watch people grow up and grow older.  And people there say that I am still getting taller.

Josh is in pain from his surgery and frequent doctor visits.  How I wish I could comfort him.

The view outside my window is not the same.  I now have six windows instead of one.  Three closets instead of one.  Two sofas and a chair instead of zero.  My own bathroom where my toothbrush is now kept, instead of in my closet.  I have keys that will let me into every room on campus.  I have been given power and responsibility.  It doesn’t feel like I’ve changed, but I know I’m not the same person I was when I first began keeping this journal.

There are no girls here to think about.  If I do think of one, it is Jessica, out in Colorado.  What a wonderful friend!

I need to shave.  My wisdom teeth don’t hurt as much.  Of course, they aren’t there anymore, but you know what I mean.  My teddy bear is still with me.  I didn’t get to see Jenna over the break, but I did see Emily oddly enough.

It’s funny how moments grow in value, the older and rarer they become.

I wonder who is thinking of me tonight.  Jessica has a new window to stare out of, new mountains all around her, but I simply moved to the other side of campus.

Eleven months and one week now.

Time.

We’re just measuring the first part of eternity.  Like one yard stick compared to the entire globe and beyond.  Similar to my holiness when compared to God’s holiness.  I hate to leave this place, but I know I must.  I need to go out and create new things.  To challenge.  To change.  To set free.  To teach others how to fly.

If I try to stay here in this perfect place, I know God will put sharp objects in the nest, painfully forcing me out.

What can be beyond here?

I’ll soon have new names to write in these pages.  New faces.  New stories who will join in with mine.  New paths.  Perhaps other red lights.  Perhaps…Her.

Prepare me God.

Prepare the place where I will land.  I give my life to the work of your hands.  Mold me.  Shape me.  Make me.

Thirty minutes until the 29th of May.

Nine years until I’m 29.

Seven minutes have passed since I lifted my pen from the number nine.

I can’t seem to think of an exit line.

Good night.

May 14, 1997 – Wednesday – 8:49 a.m.

Our meeting was good.

She had a meeting at 5:00 p.m., so we went to the beach and talked for nearly four hours.  She looked great.  She told me about her world and her problems.  She told me how much she hates her dad, how her and Brandon are back together, and how much he wanted to meet me.  Perhaps he doesn’t remember me from before.  We had a good talk.  Talking and writing is all we know how to do.  We have given up the romance and focused on our needed friendship.

I told her about Abigail, Jeni, and Jessica.  She told me about this world and I’m very glad that I live in a secluded little village in the mountains.  Emily has changed over the years.  Her focus on life is different.  All of the death around her has changed her.  I liked her better three years ago, but I love her so much more now.

This story of mine.

And Emily is another girl.

Just one of the many.

But I could not exist without her.

And I don’t know why.

May 12, 1997 – Monday – 6:00 p.m.

I called her at 3:00 p.m.  She sounded so good.  She is gonna meet me here tomorrow at 1:30 p.m.  We’ll spend the remainder of the day together.

I’m excited.  I’m nervous.

Emily.

Nearly four years.

I had no idea that the beautiful girl who walked across my campsite to take her little cousin to the bathroom would mean so much to me.

What a mystery this has been!

Will this ever be solved?

May 12, 1997 – Monday – 1:30 p.m.

Here I am.

Alone with a cat named Panda in a studio apartment in Fort Walton Beach, FL.  Curtis and Ryan are out.  I stayed behind.

Thirty miles to the north of me in the town of Crestview is a high school girl; a tall senior with blonde hair sitting in a classroom.  I wonder if she is thinking of the tall blonde college senior that is 30 miles below her.

We met nearly three years and 11 months ago.

June 13, 1993.

May 12, 1997.

I will attempt to call her this afternoon.

Who is she to me God?

What did you give her to me for?  Is she just another name in my collection or is she more?  Did you know this would happen?  You had two red lights meet.  Now it seems we can’t say goodbye or let go.

If we see each other, today or tomorrow or whenever, please be with us God.  Let your Holy Spirit guide us.  Let me know what to say and what to do.  Lead me God.  You did this.  Please continue to have your hand on this matter.

Thank you and I love you.