June 15, 1997 – Sunday – 9:15 a.m.

Yesterday was one of the best days of the summer so far.

I was aloud to eat breakfast in the cafeteria that morning since I worked Orientation.  I ate with two different families.  They asked me questions about the school and about me.  It was fun talking to them.

For the rest of the morning I sat at a desk and checked people out of their rooms.  I helped a mother measure her daughter’s room to she could hang curtains for her, then we ate lunch together.  There was a drawing for a $200 scholarship.  I drew the name and it was Monica from Houston, Texas.  She was happy and thanked me.

After lunch, I drove her and Amber to Johnson City, TN.  I had such a wonderful time.  Our drive was really nice.  We talked the whole hour and a half drive.  Amber is engaged and Monica has a crooked chin like me.  I felt so comfortable with them.  We had a nice time to spare, so we went to the mall.  Monica bought some CDs and we looked at some tennis dresses.  Some were hanging up high and we couldn’t reach them, so Monica bent down on one knee and I tried to jump up off her other knee, but I missed and knocked a whole bunch of other clothes down.  We all had a great laugh.

We ate lunch in the mall and had 11 cent ice cream cones.  Amber and Monica were amazed at how nice people were here.  They were impressed with how nice I was.  They really seem to love the simplicity of the land.

We put a quarter in the little machine that would tell us if we were underweight or overweight.  They were within their ideal weight, but I was 21 pounds underweight.

I dropped them off at the airport after the mall.  My drive home was so nice.  I put the radio on a Christian radio station and just relaxed.  The mountains were so big and green.  Small rain drops decorated my windshield.  Knowing I just made two new friends, replaying in my mind what we did that day: throwing a Nerf football in the toy store, watching them as they modeled a bunch tennis dresses for me (they looked amazing in each one), and me getting toilet paper for Amber from the guys’ bathroom at a run down gas station.

I really had no idea how to get home.  I was a little lost, but finally found my way through the Eastern Tennessee country side.  As I was driving into North Carolina, I kept thinking of Sharon and her girls and how Hannah begged for me to come over last Sunday, but I was busy.  So, I thought I would surprise them.

They were having a cookout for Father’s Day and for Sharon’s dad’s birthday.  They invited me to stay.  The food was delicious.  After dinner, Hannah and I went for a walk down to the Snowflake Inn.  I hadn’t been there since Vince was looking at Melissa, I was looking at Laura, and Hannah, well she was leading the way.

But this time it was just Hannah and I.  How beautiful that little cabin is.  I long for it to be my home.  Hannah and I opened a window and looked inside.  And all I could think was, “Jessica sure would like this place.”

We took a longer walk back and Hannah kept trying to push me in all the mud puddles.  I kept trying to jump out of the way.  We couldn’t stop laughing.  Just an 11-year-old and a 20-year-old as free as they could be.

I left their house at 8:15 p.m. on June 14, 1997.  I came home and fell asleep, but Samarah called me asked me if I could stay with Mangus.  I did.  I slept over there and awoke to the tall oriental cat licking the sleep out of my eyes.

Father’s day of 1997!  What a lovely life I’m living.

June 14, 1997 – Saturday – 1:00 a.m.

Orientation was today.  I met some soon to be new students; two beautiful tennis players from Texas named Monica and Amber.  I will drive them to the airport tomorrow.  I also met a new Performing Arts major named Sarah.

I spent some time with Kim, she’s part of the orientation committee.  We talked and laughed a lot together.  She complemented me on my hair.  And I worked with Lindy in the box office.  We have such a good time, just hours of laughter.  I later watched the NBA championship with Samarah, played with Mangus, Allison and Craig’s cat, and visited with Tracey, Jeni, and Ann-Marie.

And now I’m in my bed in the middle of the night.  I just mentioned nine different girls.  I wonder if any of them are Her?  Right now the closest thing feels to be the Durango postcard on my wall.  There’s a foot and four inches between us, but we often seem to be on the same level.  I went and took a picture of her favorite tree the other day.

I like it when I miss people.  Reminds me that they really do matter.  You can’t miss someone unless you first genuinely share your life with them.

June 11, 1997 – Wednesday – 12:15 p.m.

Life is good.  I go running every morning and I sleep in the peace of Jesus every night.  I pray and read his word every day.  I talk with friends in the afternoon at the box office and get paid for it.  I spent Sunday evening with Dawn until about 11:00 p.m.  She and Derek aren’t together anymore.  Derek wants to date other people.  I’ve seen all this happen before.

I’ve been trying to witness to Samarah, she is the RA in Canon this summer.  We went shopping the other night and had fun.  She feel so far from God at the moment.  Lindy and I have been talking about God and my faith a little.  I can’t help but talk about Jesus these days.

Rachel has been emailing me.  She wants me to go to a Chrysalis weekend in Virginia.  I’m going to try to go.  Its the first weekend in August.

Orientation is this weekend.  I’m going to help check people in and then on Saturday I’m driving two girls back to the airport.  Next week is Vacation Bible School.  I’m playing the main character of a play I wrote for the week.

The summer seems to be flying by so fast.  June is nearly half over.

Jessica still might get to be an RA.  One girl got a full scholarship and doesn’t need the job anymore.  I was so happy when I found that news out.

 

June 2, 1997 – Monday – 4:35 p.m.

A was awakened this morning by an amazing thunderstorm.  It was so loud.  Lightning was all around.

Then, I checked my mail and discovered a postcard from Jessica:

“Jacob, this is a funny story.  I went to church on Wednesday, to the Bible Missionary Church.  I didn’t know what it was, but they had a nice log cabin.  It turned out to be the Gideons, I think.  I walked in 10 minutes late with wet hair, shirt untucked, hiking boots, and all the women and girls had their hair in buns and braids, dressed really conservatively.  They were staring at me.  They were really nice though; I think I’ll go back. You never know, I may turn out to be a decent wife someday.  And I’ve been cleaning all week!

Love,

Little Jessica Homemaker.”

Her postcard was so beautiful.  Man, I miss that little girl.

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 15, 1997 – Thursday – 10:15 p.m.

I am in Atlanta, Georgia.  Life sure is a funny thing.

We went to the revival in Pensacola at Brownsville Assembly last night, but for some reason they weren’t having a service on that Wednesday night, so I came back and watched a little TV.  I watched the series finale of Coach; it was very good.

We left this morning.  Ryan cried.  I don’t know what Curtis sees in that girl.  But I’m not sure I want to know.  Life is easier when you don’t understand everything.

The drive was hot and we passed by that bridge in Chambers County, Alabama where Marcus and I broke down in August of 1995.  I spent so many hours of hope and worry under that bridge.  Part of me will be trapped there forever.

Carla came over here tonight and we went out to eat.  She’s such a pretty girl.  I don’t know why Curtis treats her so badly.  Well, we had a nice talk.  We talked about city life versus country life.  I’m so glad I got to see her.

This trip has made me appreciate the home I have in Banner Elk.  It’s like I’m the king of the world there.  I can’t seem to go wrong there.  But I have only one year left.

I really miss Jessica.  She is just so simple.  She’s so fun and easy to get along with.  She makes so much sense to me.

I’ve grown too old.  I long to be young again.  I long to be childlike.  I want to find joy in simplicity.  I want to smile at each new step and each new second.

I am lying down on a foldout sofa in a home office on Cartsworth Circle in a suburb of Atlanta, Georgia.

How in the world did little me, a blonde baby boy who learned to crawl, walk, and talk in Germany, but learned of life and love in North Carolina, ever end up here?

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.