May 31, 1999 – Monday – 9:00 a.m.

It is the last day of May.  I attended my first ever prom Saturday night.  It was a truly wonderful evening.  Christin and I and some of her friends ate out at Lock’s Point and the dance itself was awesome.  I really had fun, despite the fact that some of those teens dancing looked like they were trying to have sex with clothes on while standing up.  That was gross to see.  We went to the after-prom party and didn’t get to her friend Allison’s house until five in the morning.  The dad cooked everyone breakfast.  I don’t think I would have enjoyed my own prom if I went to it five years ago, but I enjoyed this one at the age of 22.

I still went to Sunday school and church, but then slept most of the afternoon.  Kimberly and Christin came over after church last night and I introduced them to Les Miserables.

Classes end in two weeks and then I’ll begin my Master’s Commission journey.

It just occurred to me that since I’ve come to Regent I may not have explained the other people I have come across.  Of course there is David, who is the youth pastor at Parkway Temple.  He’s 27 and a very good friend.  He’s my mentor and he helps keep me balanced.  His brother Chris, who just moved here from South Africa, is 22 and plays guitar.  He’s become a part of the church and we’ve hung out a couple of times.  Last Thursday we went to see Star Wars.

Kerstin is my friend from Germany.  She is my age.  She talks to me about boys in her life.  She feels that I understand her, but also makes it known that she only wants us to be friends, despite the fact that we play this flirting game with each other.

Brian is a couple of years older than me, yet many times I feel as though I am his mentor.  We used to only talk movies, but our conversations have recently moved onto other topics.

Nicole is 25.  She’s from Atlanta and will one day make the perfect Italian mother once she finds the right guy.  She says her body is screaming at her to have a baby now.  Wow! She’s so beautiful, but she feels like a big sister to me.  Her body shape is so similar to Sarah’s that I often just want to hug her, but try to resist the urge.

Then there’s the other Chris, the theater major who just turned 26.  He’s never had a girlfriend and he’s crazy about Kerstin.  He grew up with all sisters, and he says that has made me very careful around women.  He has a mind for missions and has done much work for Teen Mania.

The whole Hampton Roads area here feels like a melting pot since there’s such a military presence.  It feels like a mix of both northern and southern cultures all thrown into one big suburb.  It’s a very clean region thanks to the high state taxes.  Evidently a lot of people work here, but will live just over the North Carolina line, just to avoid the taxes.  Banner Elk was an easily definable mountain village, but Hampton Roads is a small materialistic version of America.

Nevertheless, at the moment, it is home, and memories are being made.  I’m very happy to know I will live here in the time that I will.  It’s teaching me how to love others and to raise my future children.

Goodbye May.  Hello summer of 1999.

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June 21, 1998 – Sunday – 3:04 p.m.

It’s officially the first day of summer!

Friday night I went to Asheboro and ran into Wynne and Grant from high school.  We went to see X-Files together.  It was nice to be near them.  I rode around in the back of Grant’s truck for a bit as he cruised downtown.  It was a nice moment of wind and freedom.

On Saturday I spent the day with Sarah at Pilot Mountain on the other side of Winston-Salem.  What a magical place.  We saw Hope Floats that evening and ate dinner with her dad.  We had some difficult hikes during our hike.  I’m glad I’m leaving.  Sarah and I feel a bit stuck.  I’m sure if I were three years younger, our relationship would play out differently.  I love her, but it is closing time for us now.  I need to go away and have time with God.

Mom and Henry have given me a car.  It is a 1989 Dodge Aires, something Henry used to drive.

I have five full days left here.  I am in the process of registering for my fall graduate classes. All of that will begin in about two months, and one of those months will be spent in Africa.

I’m yours God.

June 3, 1998 – Wednesday – 10:00 p.m.

I just got back from church.  You know, I’m really beginning to miss Lees-McRae.  It can never again be like it was.  Vince, Dan, Allen, Curtis, Charlie, Justin, Josh, etc.; I don’t think I’ve ever had better friends.  Lindy, Tracey, Jeni, Abigail, Ann-Marie, Jessica, Ashley, Ellen, Jessi, Sherlive; I don’t think I’ve ever known sweeter girls.

Except for Sarah, of course.

And I know the God who designed their souls, who drew out the patterns in their eyes, who knew those very eyes would one day shoot daggers through my own soul.

A week from tomorrow I will be leaving to visit them all again with Lindy.

I feel Sarah has changed since she has returned home and taken her job at YMCA.  She seems more mature.  I like it.  I think about her constantly.  I want her forever; to grow old with her.  To simply experience everything by her side.

I will soon go a long time without seeing her, but I will never go a long time without loving her.

I’ve been thinking and I believe that my life has stages.  God plans on using me in different places, different areas, and in each area, in each place, he just wants to watch me interact with and love the other people he has made.  He wants me to experience his creation.  He made me to show me off, and he made others to show them off.

But each stage will eventually come to an end, and the love between us will be all that will live on.

Nothing truly dies.

The Emmanuel Players skit group was a time.

Chatham Central High School was a time.

Lees-McRae College was a time.

Heaton Christian Church was a time.

South Africa will be a time.

Regent University will be a time.

And possibly, some day, I will satisfy these desires in me to make movies, to make theater, to write, and I will move on to what’s next.

It’s funny though, because through all of these stages, I feel they came to a peak when God showed me Sarah.  Or perhaps it feels that way because I’m currently in this moment.  Perhaps she is just here to aid in the transition to the next stage.

If I never see Sarah again after South Africa, all will still be well for the rest of my life, for I know I at least had seven great months by her side.

And even an hour is way more than I deserve.

May 17, 1998 – Sunday – 6:00 p.m.

A very wonderful weekend.  I spent Friday with Sarah and friends.  We had a picnic in Reynolds Gardens.  It was so beautiful!  I swung on a swing so high that I kept hitting my head on tree branch.  Sarah and KT showed me the Stevens Center, a beautiful theater in downtown Winston-Salem where she ushered.

We hung out with her friend Madelene for a while, then Sarah went to train for her summer job at the YMCA.  I ate dinner with KT and her family, took a nap, then picked Sarah up and went to her father’s house to watch Conspiracy Theory.  I spent the night at KT’s house, ate breakfast there, then drove to Banner Elk where I met up with Allen.  We drove up Beech Mountain to the house where the girls were staying.  Lindy, Abigail, Ann-Marie, Tracey, and Abigail’s parents were there.

Allen stayed up there the whole week and I later found out through Lindy that they would stay up late every night and make out together.  Wow!  Lindy feels great about it, but Allen doesn’t.

It was nice to see everyone.  We went to Jeni’s wedding.  She was absolutely beautiful.  I was very thankful that our relationship ended when it did, that we never went too far physically, and that I wasn’t the one marrying her.  I hugged her and said congratulations.  Then, surprisingly, she kissed me on my mouth.  It was just a little tap, but it was a nice moment, a nice goodbye, and I greatly enjoyed seeing her getting married.

Thank you God!

I drove to Winston-Salem that night and met up with Sarah at Madelene’s house.  Sarah and I went for a late night walk on those city streets.  The sky was purple, and it felt more like summer than any moment thus far; a very peaceful walk.

This past week I have been working on a book for Sarah that is basically just a collection of poems for her.  I let her read the thirteen poems I’ve written for her so far.  She has been doing a similar thing for me.  I love her so much.  It scares me, because I know I would do anything for her.

I came back that night, slept, then went to church this morning.  Cheryl was there.  She seems to be doing really well.  We talked a little and plan on doing something later.

And I just now returned from visiting Wynne, a guy a graduated high school with.  He caught me up on how all the old high school folks were doing.  Apparently, many are totally messed up.  One guy died, others are already divorced, but a few did finish college on time just like me.

It’s time to go to church again.

December 19, 1997 – Friday – 2:00 p.m.

I took the GRE yesterday morning.  It went okay.  Mom and I talked a lot on the way home.  The Neals are getting divorced.  Sad, sad story.

Last night I called up Mike.  He’s doing well.  He said he might call me today.  And then, realizing it’s been two years since I have seen or talked to Jonathan, I decided to call his old house to see if his dad knew where he was.  And guess what…Jonathan was there.

He drove over to visit.  His hair was green and he had two tongue rings and a nose ring.  He hasn’t grown and he looks like he’s only changed for the worse.  He looked scared and worried and stressed.

I hugged my lost friend and everything became okay.  He is still alive.  Thank God for that.

Danny flies in from California today.  Marcus and Peter came over last night.  Marcus said that more than half of our graduating class has a kid now.  Most dropped out of college.  Some are already divorced.

Kevin says he’s moving to Texas to transfer to a school there.  He will transfer in as a sophomore after five years at Methodist College in Fayetteville.  He turns 23 in less than a month and he is only going to be a sophomore.  I’m 21 and just took the GRE for graduate school.  I just don’t understand what my brother has been doing.

Nate has begun shaving at 12.  He will be hairy like Henry.

I called Sarah today.  She was baking cookies and listening to Christmas music.    She says that she misses me and its only been one day.  That is good.  I will call her again on Monday and we will go see Titanic.  Hmm.  Sarah actually looks a little bit like Kate Winslet.

 

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!

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.