February 17, 1996 – Saturday – 8:17 p.m.

In six months I will leave my teenage years.  I will have been alive for two decades.

There was a lot of snow on the ground today.  Dan had a ski race and he won as usual.

Lindy and I have a presentation due tomorrow in our Creative Process class.  So she came over today and we worked on it together.  I wish she would notice me more.  But we had a great talk and she’s a good friend.

I took my break from being on Duty at 4:00 p.m. and Curtis and Dan and I took a drive into parts of the country that we haven’t seen before.  All of it was white.  That simple drive made my day so wonderful.  I find an insane amount of peace just staring out a car window.  The hum of the road and the beauty outside.  Good friends right next to you.  Is there anything better?

I often feel alone when I stuck on duty and everyone is out, but I also guess I like it that way.  I like myself and I’m comfortable with myself.

I watched Forrest Gump this evening.  That movie teaches so much.

I wonder where my life will take me.

In 20 days it will take me to Arizona.  But after that, who knows.  I just want to do my best for the Lord.  I often forget about the simple joys.  I want to be free.

I can do my best in Bearclaw.  I can do my best in my school work.   I can do my best in loving people.

Thank you Lord for giving me everything I need to be the best I can be.

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April 28, 1995 – Friday – 8:30 a.m.

Forrest Gump comes out on video today.

At 10 o’clock this morning I will do my scene with Penny, Christina, and James.  I’ve enjoyed working on this.  It’s been a lot of fun.

Last night, James and Syndi and I went swimming in Boone.  It was an indoor pool.  We had a great time.

As I was sleeping last night, I got a call from Charlie.  He said someone in Tate Dorm had just tried to commit suicide and he asked for me to pray.

Tomorrow is Carowinds.

Then Sunday will be April 30, 1995.  It’s been one year since that amazing day.

I’ve got to go to class.

Later.

April 23, 1995 – Sunday – 10:15 p.m.

Last night I went out with James and a girl named Syndi.  We ate at Pizza Hut and then saw Forrest Gump at a dollar theater.  The last time I saw Forrest Gump was August 13th, 1994.  That was before the storm.  It reminded me of the summer.  I felt like I was back home.  But it has been eight months and ten days since that night.  And now those eight months and ten days are gone.

I went to church this morning as I do every Sunday morning.  Jim’s sermon was awesome.  He is a wonderful teacher and preacher.  Clifton invited me over to his house today.  We watched Stargate.  It was really cool; I liked it.  Afterwards, Crystal took me horseback riding.  I had never been before so I was excited.  And since I am so easily amazed, Crystal was laughing at me the entire time.  She walked into the pasture and almost stepped in a pile of horse crap and I about lost it; I’ve never been around that much poop before.  It’s nothing to her though.

We just went for a short trot up their road.  It was cold and misty outside, but I enjoyed myself.  She said she would take me again sometime.  I’m looking forward to it.

I am supposed to be back here at school on the 15th of August.  Lees-McRae Summer Theater is putting on a production of The Secret Garden that I want to see.  It ends on the 14th.  I’m going to come up anyway on the 14th to see it.  Leslie, Clifton and Crystal’s mom said I could stay at their house that one night since I won’t be able to stay on campus until the 15th.  The 14th is a Monday, so that means the 13th, a Sunday, will be my last day at home.

August 13th, 1995.  That date sounds familiar.

Anyway, after our horse ride we watched Blue Sky with Tommy Lee Jones and Jessica Lange.  Great movie!  Church was great tonight as well.  We all went out to eat at the Country House afterwards.  Pastor Jim was there as well.  He asked me when I will be back in the fall, so I could start creating a drama ministry.  I told him August 14th.

Crystal is really excited about this.  She was disappointed when she found out I wasn’t going to be here for the summer.  She wants to work in film when she gets older as well.

When I walked out of the Country House tonight I was almost knocked down by the wind; it was blowing so hard.

I’m sure it will blow harder in about two and a half weeks though.

I got back to my room at around nine o’clock.  I sat on my bed and took off my shoes.  I threw them over into my closet and then I opened my top drawer of the dresser next to my unmade bed.  I pulled a precious piece of folded paper from out of it and gazed upon these precious words: “Please call me if you need anything.”

I grabbed my phone and dialed the most beautiful phone number on the planet.  And my beautiful Emily answered.  We talked for little over an hour.  We talked about everyday life.  She does so many things.  I knew she played a lot of sports and that she played bass guitar and piano, but tonight she told me that she also dances as well as does gymnastics and even kickboxing.  I asked her if there was anything she doesn’t do.

“Probably not,” she said.

She says that she will begin making the video for me soon.  I can’t wait!

She had had a wonderful time at the beach for spring break.  She gave me so many little details about what had happened and what she was thinking, etc.

After about an hour, we said our goodbyes and goodnights.  I hung the phone up and then turned and looked at myself in the mirror.  I looked into my own eyes and then I realized that I was scared.  I was terrified.

What have I done?  What am I doing?  Emily is so close, yet so far away.  I feel like she is slipping right through my fingers.  I am afraid to have her.  I’m even afraid to say it because I feel so much truth in it.  I feel like I’m living in a dream world.  Whenever Charlie and I are talking, I always mention Emily.  I talk about her all the time.  I talk about her like she is right next to me.

I am simply scared that somewhere along our journey in this crazed world, I will lose her.  Her world in Crestview seems so much larger than my small world in Banner Elk.  And who knows?  Who knows where her and I will be tomorrow?

As I listened to her voice over the phone tonight, there was something I wanted to tell her.  I wanted to tell her that I loved her, but I didn’t.  I couldn’t.  I couldn’t bring myself to say it.  But why?  I had told her that I loved her before.  Why is it different now?

Wait a minute.  What am I doing?  I’m trying to figure this out with my brain.  Emily said, “The Heart has eyes the Brain knows nothing of.”

I can’t see this in it’s right perspective with my physical eyes, I must use the eyes of my heart.

The storm that nearly knocked me down as I left the Country House tonight must have grown.  I just saw a flash of lightning outside my window.  There just went a another one!  Cool, another one!

On March 8, 1995 I wrote this: “There is no lightning in the air, but there is Emily’s letter on the dresser beside me.  Oh, how I wish a storm would blow me away to Crestview, FL.”

It looks like my wish has come true.  The eyes of my heart see absolutely nothing that the brain can.  Because my heart is not here.  My heart has been blown away by this storm of lightning to Crestview.  It cannot see anything here, for Emily has my heart.

Why be scared?  There is nothing I can do.  Lightning strikes.  I cannot stop it from striking me.  I cannot make it strike me.  I cannot make it strike anyone else.

So, I will just let it be.  I have been struck with lightning and I cannot pretend that I haven’t been.  So I will let this force inside me now grow.  I will not deny it.  I will not try to hide it.

I will believe in it.

God is this force.

God is love.

I will not try to understand.

I believe God knows the answers.

I believe God is the answer.

I believe love is the answer.

And I believe love will find a way.

So I will write it here:  Emily, I am in love with you.  How?  When?  Where?  Why?  I’m not going to try to figure that out.  God knows how my heart sees you, so I will give it all to him.  For he controls where lightning strikes.

Sunlight spilled out from the sky, until it was gone

And moonshine showered down on me, until I knew I was alone

Then I reached up to the sky, and the storm began to blow

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.

Jeni.

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.

December 18, 1994 – Sunday – 1:55 a.m.

Tonight (Saturday) we had the party for the Sunday School class at Heaton Christian Church.  We played  Chinese Christmas and I ended up with a Forrest Gump T-shirt.  It says Forrest Gump for President: He doesn’t know why he’s running.  I love it.

The party was a lot of fun.  Jeni and I are fine.  I am so in love with her.

Christmas is soon.  I will go home in about three days.

Wow!

Bummer.

I will miss Jeni so much.

August 14, 1994 – Sunday – 2:00 a.m.

It’s been a long day (Saturday).

Marcus and I arrived at Joel’s house early Saturday morning, like around 1:15 a.m.  He talked about Cheryl.  I told him what I knew and what she told me.  He said he wasn’t worried, because he had bought her a bracelet and a T-shirt.  It cost him $45 and he said, “So, do you think she’ll still resist me after that?”

Weird.  I told him I didn’t know.

We played cards and the way he talked and stuff…he is definitely not the same Joel.  He told me these dirty jokes and tried to get me to smoke.  I didn’t get to bed until 5:00 a.m. and I got up at 6:30 a.m. to get ready for band practice at church.

We all three got there on time and Cheryl was there.  Joel tried to put the bracelet on her, but she said she wanted nothing to do with him and she wanted nothing from him.

Jonathan joined us after band practice and the four of us went to Christi’s.  Hank and Patti were the only ones there.

Joel is on the rebound so every little girl he sees he goes crazy over.  Hank is helping him get back on track work wise, as is Scott, Veronica’s stepfather.

I saw Veronica today.  She is growing up so much.

We went to McDonald’s and Joel began talking with Danielle who works there, you know, that blonde haired girl.  Well, Marcus and I left him to go to Cheryl’s.  We stayed to watch Ace Ventura Pet Detective and then brought her back with us to McDonald’s.  She told us Ryan wants to do something with us, but since Joel is getting on our nerves, I plot to set it up to where he can’t join us.  But I’ll get to that in a minute.

We find out later that Joel and Danielle go to the park and make out, French kissing and all.  And guess what?!  He gives her the $45 worth of stuff that he originally bought for Cheryl.  Today was the first day he laid eyes on the girl.

So we decide that we’re going to go see Forrest Gump in Aberdeen tonight after youth group.  Joel finds out about it and he assumes I am paying his way since he has no money.  We don’t want him to come, so I call Ryan and ask her to tell her mom to tell her she can’t go in front of us whenever we come by there later to pick her up for youth group (she didn’t have to work).  And when Joel sees that she isn’t going, then we’ll all decide to not go and Joel will ride back home with Becca’s family.  He asked to spend the night, but I told him it wasn’t a good night.

All of this happens knowing that after youth group the four of us, Ryan, Cheryl, Marcus, and myself are going to go see Forrest Gump without Joel.  Joel didn’t find out we were plotting against him and he went home after youth group.  Jonathan came with us to see the movie and Ryan drove.

I enjoyed the movie much better this time.  No vomit.

Jenna and Tenielle both game me a letter tonight.  Tenielle’s makes sense.  Jenna’s is stupid and immature.  

However, the night was amazing!  Forrest Gump taught me so much.  Is there a destiny?  Or are we just floating around here on a huge wind?

It’s a little bit of both.

I was with four other great friends that I’ve known for so long, seeing one of the greatest films ever made.

“Life is like a box of chocolates…you never know what you’re gonna get.”

August 12, 1994 – Friday – 3:45 p.m.

Cheryl called me this morning.  She had broken up with Joel earlier.  He called her and she told him that he wasn’t the same person she began liking in the first place.

She said that he acted like a jerk.

Well anyway, Marcus just called me and Joel just called him.  It looks like Marcus and I will go spend the night at his place after we get off work.  Cheryl says he really needs someone right now.  Rebecca tells me that he has started smoking and well…I’m going to be his friend.  He hasn’t hurt me yet.

He also just got fired from his job and his car is giving him trouble.

Sunday night I believe I’m going to try and see Forrest Gump again after youth group in High Falls.  Hopefully I won’t spend half the movie puking my guts out like I did last time.

The end is getting closer.

I wonder if my ending in this place will be a happy ending or a tear-jerker.