September 7, 1997 – Sunday – 12:49 p.m.

Around four o’clock Friday afternoon I made my departure from the grand state of North Carolina in Sherlive’s red Nissan.  I sat alone in the back.  We drove into Tennessee while Anna, a freshman from New York, sat in the passenger’s seat.

Sherlive has quite an interesting family.  Her mother looks like her eyes are always closed.  She is constantly taking pictures and rambling.  But she is very loving.  Sherlive’s father, with his super deep voice, always begins each sentence with “when I was a boy.”  He cooked enough food for an army, but lives in yesterday.  Then, Mikayla, Sherlive’s 3-year-old adopted sister, clung to me like her long lost brother.  She’s a wonderful little girl and a great new friend.

After dinner on Friday night, we went to an Elizabethton High School football game.  Sherlive wanted to see some old friends and see the high school band, one she used to be a part of.  The game was okay, I was just kinda amazed by the whole high school scene.  I feel old.

Sherlive, Anna, and myself got into some deep conversations about life, love, and relationships.  After halftime we ended up at a coffee shop in Johnson City.  Anna is this cute little 100% Greek girl who feels more like someone’s grandmother instead of an 18-year-old, but I mean that in a cool way.

Dan met us Saturday morning to go hiking with us.  He ate breakfast with us too; a huge amount of food made by Sherlive’s dad.  We went to Blue Hold and then to Red Fork Falls, at least I think that’s what it was called.  They were really pretty places.  I took some pictures.

Sherlive is such a funny little nutcase.  She goes rock climbing in her bare feet and Dan says “Hey is Blue Hole cool?”

“No, it’s cold.” she says.

Dan looks at me funny.  “Okay, well, is it rad?”

“No, it’s blue!”

Dan and I burst out laughing.  Then, after Sherlive has been stuck on the side of the cliff for about 30 minutes, Dan just jumps up and runs towards it and scurries up it like a squirrel.  He reaches the top that Sherlive has been trying to climb to in two seconds.  Oh, Sherlive was so mad, she just screamed bloody murder.

In the middle of all the beautiful scenery, Dan and I just broke free, ran around, and laughed our butts off everywhere we went.  We stuck our heads out the window whenever we were in the car and just hooted and hollered the whole day.  If I wrote down every funny thing we said, oh, this book would be full.

Linda visited me last night.  We sort of got caught up on our Box Office talk.  And Marisa called me last night.  She said she just wanted to hear my voice.

Church was amazing this morning.  I cried.  Heaven is a guarantee.

Abigail and Ann-Marie both come to Heaton now.  Our college age group is so huge.

Friends.  What an amazing concept.  I would do anything for these people.

I would live.

I would die.

September 2, 1997 – Tuesday – 11:11 p.m.

Yesterday afternoon Dan and I went hiking on the backside of Grandfather Mountain.  It was really beautiful and peaceful.

Curtis is coming back to school.  I guess his visit up here was really great.  He learned where his heart lives.

I took my first voice lesson today and my teacher seemed really impressed with me.

I hardly have any homework these days.  I have a lot of free time.  Dan and I play Tetris 2 a lot and I’ve been reading more than usual.

Sherlive is over here now, using my word processor.

September 2nd again.

And now it’s ending.

May 1, 1997 – Thursday – 9:10 a.m.

Yesterday was great.  I tore box office tickets for an hour with Derek, ate lunch, then Jessica and I went hiking through the woods to find a place where we are going to camp out tonight.  I took a little nap, then went to student services to get my 400 key for next year.  A 400 key will open any door in any Residence Hall.  I went to look at my room in Tennessee dorm for the summer.

I ate dinner, then Jessica and I went to Boone with Derek and Dawn to see Joseph.  I had so much fun last night.  We went to Backyard Burgers and started thinking up weird sayings like, “Holy Therapeutic Thursday!!”  It was hilarious.  The show was great, and Derek treated all of us to milkshakes at Mel’s Diner.

So, it seems as it Jessica and I are going to sleep near each other in a small tent about a mile into the nearby woods.  I don’t know what’s going on between us.  It doesn’t matter.  She is simply a beautiful Christian girl and I greatly enjoy her company.

January 25, 1997 – Saturday – 9:15 a.m.

Last night it was my idea to go to the Blue-Ridge Parkway since the moon was so full.  So Jessica, Abigail, Ann-Marie, Tracey, and Todd and I jumped in Tracey’s car and headed up there.  It got really foggy and the parkway was closed.  Jessica was disappointed.  The other girls were happy because they didn’t want to go hiking anyway.  They were complaining the whole way up there.

So, after we turned around, they decided they wanted to go to Mel’s Diner.  Tracey, Ann-Marie and Abigail suddenly came alive when they were doing something they wanted to do.  Jessica didn’t want to go, but she was content and didn’t complain.

I realized last night that Abigail, Tracey and Ann-Marie are basically the same kind of girl.  They are the exact mirror image of each other’s personality, especially when they are in the same time and place.  But Jessica is an individual.  She is beautifully unique and is not afraid to be who she is.

September 4, 1995 – Monday – 3:40 p.m.

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Four very special days are coming to a close.  Syndi and I returned from our weekend away about 20 minutes ago.  I just got finished unpacking my clothes.  This entry will probably not be in chronological order, but nonetheless I spent almost every second of the past four days with beautiful Syndi.  We went to Deep Creek with my parents.  We went tubing.  She wore her bathing suit.  We took hikes.  We went and saw three amazing waterfalls together.  I took tons of pictures.  We drove to Cherokee, played miniature golf, rode go-carts, and I spent a lot of money I didn’t really have.  We ate at Pizza Hut and we looked out over that never-changing scene.  She held my hand while we hiked, and whenever we sat down to rest, she would put her head on my shoulder and I would put my arm around her.  We would hold hands while tubing down the creek.  We would make jokes and laugh.

In short, I roamed the playground of my youth, the place I visited every summer for the past decade, with a gorgeous tall redhead who clung so close to my side.  Syndi and I were inseparable.  And everywhere we drove we listened to the same song over and over because she had the single stuck in her cassette player and couldn’t get it out.  So any time in the future, when I hear The Proclaimers’ I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles) I’ll think of Syndi and our perfect weekend in the Smoky Mountains.

A really funny moment was when Syndi and I were simply hanging out at the campsite after we had finished tubing.  She was still in her bathing suit.  We were just sitting next to each other on our tubes, and I don’t know, but I guess I yawned or something and my grandpa asked what was wrong.  I said, “I don’t know, I guess I’m just bored.”  He turned around and mumbled, “Son, how can you be bored with something like that sitting right next to you?”  He didn’t mean for Syndi and I to hear that, but we sure did.  We had a good laugh.  But it is a blessing to be seen with such a beautiful woman.  Especially one who spent nearly the whole weekend in a bikini.

So much more happened, but last night as we were coming back from Pizza Hut, we turned to go to the recreation park.  I pulled the car up a hill and turned it around so we could face the sunset.  And there began one of the most interesting conversations I have ever known.  She wanted to know why I do the things I do.  By this she was referring to my Christianity.  And with our hands holding each others and my head on her shoulder, I told her how much I love Jesus and why.  I almost cried trying to explain it.  She held my hand tighter as I continued to talk.  And with my head in her lap and her fingers running through my hair, she told me so many things.  She told me little childhood stories and things in her past.  A life so different from my own.  She told me about Eric, her boyfriend/ex-boyfriend, whom she can’t seem to let go of.  He is a drug-addict, and admits it.  And Syndi basically referred to her alcohol as her own god.  Yet, throughout our differences in conversation and beliefs our bodies got closer.  My lips ran across the back of her neck.  And, at one point, I eventually fell asleep with my head in her lap.

Earlier that day, we decided we both needed to take a shower, but the only way to take one is to pay for it at the laundromat.  So, I was in the men’s shower and she was in the woman’s shower.  Syndi finished before me and when she walked to the car, she said a woman came up to her and said, “Your husband sure does take a long time in that shower, doesn’t he.”  She said she didn’t have the heart to correct her, and for a few times that night, Syndi called me “her hubby.”

I asked her why she was with me this weekend and why she spent so much time with me?  Why she seems so concerned with my life?

She said she found me interesting.

Normally, Syndi is not the kind of person I would hang around and she said the same about me.  However, this non-Christian, this “person-of-the-world”, is on my mind 24/7.

For the past few years while at Deep Creek, I secretly hoped to meet a special girl.  And I did.  I met Emily.  This year however, I brought one with me.

I am not any better than Syndi.  She is not any better than me.  Jesus died for her just like he died for me.  She is a child of God who is simply lost.

And I am a child of God, who in the long run, will probably lose her.