April 3, 1998 – Friday – 11:20 p.m.

This is kinda crazy.  First of all, last night Sarah and Jessi and I walked to the nearby park, the one Sarah and I walked to on the 10th of December back in 1997.  I asked her if she remembered this place and she said “Yes,” and this kissed me and whispered “I love you” in my ear.

We had a nice time, just being the three of us.  I miss them right now.  We got cold up on the jungle gym so we snuggled up together.  I was squeezed in-between those two beautiful girls.  It was nice.  The evening represented all I want in life: kind words, sweet kisses, and the warmth of a beautiful woman.

Sarah forgot that I was going away for the weekend.  She looked sad when I told her I was going to be gone.

I left with Curtis and Ellen at 8:00 a.m. this morning.  They took me to the Tri-Cities airport in Tennessee.  My first flight was cancelled, but I was booked on another flight three hours later.  During the wait, I had a cream cheese bagel and a cup of hot cocoa.

The flying was fun.  I flew to Charlotte, then down to Tampa, where a young man named Mark was waiting for me.  I met up with some other Teen Mania people.  One guy was even from Johnson City, another who went to Avery High School, and another girl from L.A.

The time here so far has been cool, but my stomach feels terrible.  They also never gave me a list of what I was supposed to bring, so I’m down here without a sleeping bag or pillow.  We’ll see how this turns out.  But thank God…I give all this to you.

Oh, and I’ve discovered that traveling is wonderful, especially when you know you have a home to go back to.  Maybe that’s why this earth seems so amazing to me, because I’m just traveling through, awaiting my return to Heaven.

Tomorrow is a brand new day!

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March 30, 1998 – Monday – 4:00 p.m.

This month is nearly over.

I talked to Sarah on Saturday.  I asked her if this is what she wanted, for us not to be together.  She said that she wasn’t sure for the longest time and finally she prayed and gave it all up to God.  The day she did was the day that I came to her to let her go.

We both felt this was right and was supposed to happen.  We held each other and told each other not to forget how much they were loved.  I asked if it would be wrong if I kissed her goodbye.  Thankful, she said it wasn’t.

I kissed her.  We both cried and then I left.  Sunday was spent at church and with Sharon and family.  We drove around on the Blue Ridge Parkway, ate ice cream and pizza and visited a lake.  It was a fantastic time.  Lindy and I hung out with each other that night and I called Sarah just to say hi.  She said she wasn’t doing really well, but she didn’t tell me why.

Today she came into the computer lab while I was working in there and rather than talking across the room, we just emailed each other back and forth.  I think she was able to better express herself through writing and without having to look at me.  She said she was just sad because she misses me.

I miss her.

Through writing emails, we decided to meet out in the hallway and find an empty classroom.  Once there we just held each other, and, with tear-filled eyes, she kissed me passionately.

I love her.

I think we plan on talking later tonight.

Oh God.  I want you to always be first in my life.

Can she be second?

March 15, 1998 – Sunday – 10:55 p.m.

I’m in Beattyville, Kentucky with Vince, Allen, Justin, Alex, Charlie, Kate, Sherlive, Shannon, and Ellen.  We are here working with Habitat for Humanity.  I’ve been asked to keep a detailed journal while on this trip, so I’ll try my best.

In a way all of this is ridiculously hilarious.  The guys are sleeping in a prison next to an inmate that is technically “in jail” but still gets to come and go as he pleases, and the girls are sleeping at the habitat house with a bunch of other girls with safety pins and other such nonsense pierced in their faces.  Three of the guys comedically made a competition out of who would be able to kiss the first girl while on this trip, but after seeing the girls here in eastern Kentucky, they quickly called everything off.

An older version of the briefcase boy at school is one of the “in-charge” guys at the habitat house.  If he becomes an important character this week, I’ll simply refer to him as Vista for a hilarious reason only our group of ten will understand.

Herman is the other guy’s name.  We’ll meet up with him at nine tomorrow to start working.

As for tonight, we went to Beattyville Christian Church, a nice country church.  The girls are having second thoughts about staying with the safety-pin head chicks, so the church will consider giving us their activity center for the week.  This is where we are now.  There is a drum set and our group brought a total of four guitars.  Constant noise surrounds me.

We’ve met some neat people and this church has welcomed us like Christians should and like Jesus would.

The surroundings are different though.  These mountains aren’t like western North Carolina mountains.  This is old coal mining country.  It feels very poor, whereas our region of North Carolina is covered in the wealthy summer houses of rich Floridians.

I’ve been in a quiet mood since we left Banner Elk.  I guess I just know all of these friends are about to vanish from my sight after graduation and I just try to linger in the fleeting moments of appreciated them.

I feel so different from everyone, yet we are all alike in so many ways.

We all have fears.  We all have loves.  We are all sinners, and we have all been forgiven.

Oh, and we all have eyes, very deep eyes.  I feel as if these new eyes here know a pain I have never known.

January 24, 1998 – Saturday – 1:07 a.m.

Oh Thursday night Sarah came over here.  Well actually it was more like early Friday morning.  We just held each other and kissed for about an hour.  It was one of the most beautiful hours I’ve ever known.  She is so amazing, so funny, so beautiful.

As I held her I studied her face with my eyes and fingers.  So perfect.

Oh God, have your will with us.  Thank you so much for this relationship.  These past two months with her have been so amazing.  I give you all the glory!

January 17, 1998 – Saturday – 11:00 a.m.

Okay, never mind.  I wasn’t way off.

Yesterday, Friday the 16th, was a record-breaking day for five girls came to my room and talked to me about their romantic pursuits.

First was Geana.  We talked about sex because she and her boyfriend have sex.  She knows the Bible teaches against it, but she says with him it doesn’t feel like a sin.  She was in a car accident about five years ago where she suffered brain damage.  After that, she said her thinking changed and started doing things she would have never done before.  She seemed confused and admitted as much.  I told her that if the love was true, both would stop having sex, guard their hearts and bodies, and get married.  She seemed to see the logic in that.  She’s an interesting and weird girl.  After telling me all this stuff, she then took a nap on my sofa for an hour.

And while she was asleep, Sherlive called.  She called to talk to me about Vince for she is but another girl who is crazy about him.  I told her he was still confused about Laura and to just be his friend, but to also not be a stranger.

Then, Jessica came over and we talked about her and Allen.  They went on a midnight hike at the beginning of the semester and she now likes him and wanted to know if I knew how he felt about her.

The next girl was Emily, not my pen pal, but Emily from the theater department, who plays the prostitute I have the underwear scene with in Cuckoo’s Nest.  She wanted to talk about her confusing feelings towards Timothy and AJ.

And then the last girl to desire my company and advice was Sarah, my girl, and we got to talk about us.  Thursday night, over the phone, she told me that she had a present for me, “a special present,” she added.

“Well, I’m excited,” I said.

I saw her around lunch time and we smiled brightly at each other.  I called her while Geana was asleep only to find her crying.  She said she was an emotional wreck, but that she had to go to class.  I told her she was beautiful and that I loved her.

At dinner, she was still a little weird and I told her I would look her up after rehearsal.  After rehearsal Sarah, Mason, and Jessi went to rent a movie.  I watched it with them in Mason’s room with half the freshmen Performing Arts students, but Sarah never acknowledged I was there.

I was on duty and I got a call over the radio, so I left to deal with that and never returned.  I went to my room, put on Hymn by Jars of Clay, then put it on repeat, and began to read the Gospel of John.  While reading, a peace came over me.  I have been praying for a while now for God to teach me to love like he loves.  And I realized that he answered my prayer through Sarah.  He showed me how much it hurts when he loves those who do not even acknowledge or look at him.

When I got to the second chapter, there was a knock at my door.

Sarah came in.

She sat on the floor, by the sofa I was sitting on, and laid her head upon me.  I put my arm around her and ran my fingers through her hair.

She began to cry and she didn’t stop until she left, which was about an hour later.

My eyes shed no tears.

She eventually spoke.  “You see a beauty in me that I have yet to see.  I see how much you love and care for me and its the scariest thing I’ve ever known.”

“You ought to be me,” I smiled.

“I just don’t know what to do.”

“Do you want me to let you go?”

“Not completely.”

“I know not completely, but enough where we don’t have to pretend to play this little game?  I can’t stop loving you Sarah, but I can stop trying to show it.  And you know that I’m here if you ever need someone to hold you.”

She continued to cry.

“I’ve known you’ve felt this way for a long time,” I told her, “I just wanted to be come and tell me.”

“I didn’t want to hurt you.”

“You couldn’t hurt me.”

“I don’t want you to have to need me.”

“Sarah, I needed me to love you more than I ever needed you to love me.  What has happened between us is a beautiful thing.  God has told me to love you now, because we both will need it later on.  Please don’t feel guilty.”

We looked at each other for a while.

She broke the silence with, “It’s not like I don’t love you, I do, and you know I’ll always be here,” she placed her hand on my chest, “but I’m just not ready.”

More silence passed.

“I had a cross necklace that I wanted to give you, something that I’ve had for a while that has been very special to me, but it feel out of my pocket today and I lost it.”

The tears poured from her eyes.

“I’m sorry.” I said.

After a few eternal silent moments of unending eye-contact, she finally kissed me on my cheek and said, “Thank you.”

“You’re welcome.”  I said.

December 11, 1997 – Thursday – 7:30 p.m.

I went to our Team Meetings last night.  I saw Sarah there.  We were in The Pinnacle Room since it was the Department’s Christmas Party.  After a while of talking with other people and eyeing Sarah out of the corner of my eye all night, I finally went up to her.  She hugged me and I asked her if she wanted to go for a walk later on.  She said yes.

It was a cold and windy night, but the near full moon, diffused through the clouds, lit the world for us.  Bundled up, we walked to Banner Elk Park.  We had fun.  There was a lot of laughter and a lot of playing.  We were on the playground and she mentioned how everyone in the Performing Arts Department thinks we are going out.

“I’m sorry,” she said.

That made me feel like the idea of us together was a bad idea to her.

“I guess we need to talk about that?” I asked.

“Yeah.”

I went on to tell her how confused I was since I was leaving in five months.  She said she understood.  I asked her to help me in my confusion, but she said she couldn’t.

Wonderful Eternal Instances passed by as we continued to play, but we also found time to be still as we viewed the sky and moon above our small silent souls.

We ended up in a tiny cubbyhole only big enough for the two of us.  And there with her I could be myself.  My soul can go free when I’m with Sarah.

A second passed where I wanted to kiss her, but I felt what we had was going to fade into a lasting friendship and not a romantic one, so I wasn’t too sure if I should kiss her.

She noticed by confusion and asked what was wrong.

I told her.

“Why aren’t you sure if you should kiss me?”

I couldn’t answer.  I was speechless.  I wanted her so badly that I froze.

Forever passed.

“Well here’s my face,” she said.

. . .

Her face is so soft and her lips are so amazing.  I’m not sure how long we kissed, but she had a rehearsal to go to, so we had to walk back to campus.

I returned to my room and three hours went by.  All of that time was spent talking with friends.  Ann-Marie was there, as well as some of the guys.  Ann-Marie stayed until 12:30 a.m. and we talked about the weird and wonderful way we think.

After she left I stripped down to my underwear and jumped in my bed.  Before I even thought about turning off my light, I called Sarah.

Jaminda and Sherlive were there in her room with her.  She said the three of them were having girl talk.  An hour of conversation passed by and during that time Sarah asked me to write down Exodus 23:20.  I could hear Jaminda and Sherlive in the background and they were telling metaphorical stories that made me think Sarah actually wanted our relationship to grow, despite the fact that I would be graduating soon.

I couldn’t handle it anymore.  Finally I said, “Sarah, I’m crazy about you.  I know I’m not here for very long, but I want you.”

A weird sound came from her voice.

“Why didn’t you tell me this on our walk?”

“I don’t know, I lose my mind when I’m with you.”

“Well…”

“Oh no!  I’m freaking you out aren’t I?”

“No, no, no, I’m just really surprised you feel this way.”

“You are?”

“Yeah!!!”

“Well, how do you feel?”

“Well…” she began.

I listened.  And she spoke a series of words that I will never forget.

“I love you Jacob.  And I don’t mean “love” like I love all my friends.  I mean I love you.  I love you.”

I’ve never been shot, but it can’t feel much different.

And I love her too.  I told her.  I jumped out of bed and bundled up again.  We met halfway between our dorms super early on this Thursday morning.  We hugged and kissed at the intersection of the college store and said a prayer before we said goodnight.

When I got back to my bed, I looked up the verse Sarah gave me, “See, I am sending an angel ahead of you to guard you along the way and to bring you to the place I have prepared.”

 

December 6, 1997 – Saturday – 1:00 p.m.

A fresh snow has fallen upon the land.

And I am in a place I have never been before.

Last night, I took pictures of the Christmas show.  Sarah came over afterwards with Jessi. We watched Secrets and Lies.  Sarah and I had some alone time after the movie and we kissed for the first time in nearly two weeks.

And…

Oh man.  I don’t know what to write.  I don’t know what to think.

This girl has done something to me.  For the first time, I feel like putty, instead of being the one holding the putty.  I am so fragile next to her.  Last night she reached over to touch my face.  She placed her hand on my crooked chin and it made me feel uncomfortable, because it was a part of me that, in my eyes at least, was not perfect.

I tried to move my face so she would move her hand, but she wouldn’t let go.  Then, she brought both of her hands up and held my chin.

She stared into my eyes.

“You are beautiful Jacob.”

And I… I was hers.