October 22, 1997 – Wednesday – 7:40 p.m.

You know what I want?  You know what I wish for?  I want to come home to a beautiful woman, and we will embrace each other after a long day’s work.

I’m sure those days will come, but it’s obvious to me that I’ll have to wait quite a while until that daily comfort arrives.

It is nearing the end of October.  It’s very dark outside now.  The stars are visible, but I am not.  I am not really busy, but it feels that way.  “Masks” opens in a week and a day.  The Misanthrope rehearsals are somewhat difficult.  I miss Mark, my director for Children of a Lesser God.  He knew what he was doing, and I always felt confident in myself as an actor under him.  I don’t feel that way now.

The story of my youth.  Is it over?  Was it interesting?  Did I understand?  Was I me?  Was I beautiful?  Did I love?  Did others love me?

I guess all that matters is that somewhere along the past 21 years I learned of a Jesus who adores me.  For that reason alone, life has been pretty good.

It’s been nearly five years since I began keeping these journals.  Five years.

1992-1997.

Sixteen to twenty-one.

I’m so glad God created laughter.  Life is so much fun.  I can honestly say I have fantastic friends.  They are my salvation.  God loves us through other people.

But still, despite all the bliss of love and laughter, I’m not sure I like living here.  People can be weird.  People can be harsh.  And it hurts even more to know that I am one of those weird, harsh, and hurtful people.  I don’t love people enough.  I don’t smile enough.  I am not nice enough.  I seclude myself too much.

My mom says it’s simply a part of my heritage, that I, like her, receive my strength from being alone.  How can I help a dying world if I’m alone all the time?  How can I be a good Christian if I only hang around other Christians?

I don’t like this world.  I don’t like me in this world.  Yet I also love every day I am alive because here I get to practice my faith in, and my love for, my beautiful savior.

The truth is, despite all my plans, despite all my goals, and despite all my dreams, I don’t know what to do or where to go.  So, I just stand right here, loving all the beauty around me, waiting for him to show me our tomorrow.

January 2, 1997 – Thursday – 4:05 p.m.

I woke up in a great mood, but they raised some of the prices at McDonald’s and it really ticked a few of the regular customers off.  Several of them come with exact change and they have been for years.  They got upset at me, but I tried not to let it bother me.  I just sang praises to my Jesus underneath my breath.

Today was my last day there for a while.  I stopped by the bank later on and when the teller saw my Banner Elk address she told me she had attended App. State.  We talked a little bit about the area.  I could tell she missed it.

Throughout the day, I kept bursting out with laughter.  I kept thinking about last night.  So many funny things were said.  Thank you God for laughter.

April 28, 1994 – Thursday – 10:55 p.m.

Oh boy!

After I watched Christy on TV, Marcus and Kenny and I went out to eat at Golden Corral.  And when Kenny went up to pay for the meal, he told the person that it was my birthday; which it is not!  I couldn’t believe it.  

They brought me out a sundae and sang happy birthday to me.  One of the girls goes to my school and she told me I had to stand up in the chair when they sang.  I did, but then she said that the always try to get the birthday guy or girl to stand up in the chair and they never do, I was the first.  I’m gullible I guess, but it wasn’t even my birthday, so the joke’s on them.

We had the biggest laugh.  Kenny is the funniest guy!

After tomorrow there are 25 days of school left.  My dad called me tonight.  He is doing well.

Well, goodnight.

April 22, 1994 – Friday – 4:05 p.m.

I just got Tenielle’s letter in the mail.

This is my reply to that letter, and I will let her read this:

Tenielle, the two of us saw everything differently.  Before I begin, I ask for your forgiveness.  Some words are better unheard and better unsaid.  The reason I acted the way I did was because I was confused, not mad.  I didn’t know how you felt or really how I felt.  I was upset Saturday because of the way Skit Practice went.  Tenielle, writing and directing skits, drama, and theater is something I love doing very much, more than I can ever express.  It is a part of me, it’s the way I communicate.  God put it in my soul and I can’t take it away.  And when hardly no one acted like they were enjoying it and they all acted like they’d rather be doing something else, well, it tore up my soul.  It hurt so much because I wanted you guys to enjoy the process, but you weren’t, so I blamed myself.  And I brought in Pastor Steve to help me do the job.  I couldn’t do it by myself.  You and Jenna both acted upset and in a way I was sick of all the junk and crap my brother was giving me.  So, I thought, “well forget this place, they won’t have to put up with me much longer anyway.”

And it hurt me to think that because I don’t want to forget this place.  I love it here.  I love you and Jenna, Marcus, Kevin, and everybody.  My whole life has been right here, but now my life won’t let me stay here.  It’s so hard going to school everyday Tenielle, because I see people whom I know I will never see again after the 10th of June.  This is the only life I’m living with only one heart to pull me through it.  I’ve never done this before and I don’t know what I’m doing.

And I’m not jealous because you like Kevin.  I’m so glad.  Kevin is the greatest brother.  He really knows how to care for someone and make them feel good.  Please Tenielle, spend as much time with him as you can.  You will treasure it for the rest of your life.  I know I will.

My mom asked me the other day if I had any fears of leaving.  I said yes, but I didn’t tell her.  I actually have two.  My greatest fear is that what is happening now and the time I have spent here will soon only be a vague, distant memory, and that all of us have spent together all of the tender emotions, all the smiles, and the laughter, all the times we jumped on the trampoline, all of the times we met at Mr. Gatti’s, all of the Christian Skate Nights, everything that makes my life so wonderful right now, these great days of my youth, will be lost in oblivion after I leave and grow older.

I don’t want that to happen.

I asked Brandon if he thought about this place anymore.  He told me NO!  I never want to lose my memory of this place.

I’ll remember a time I knew what happiness was, and a new life will begin.  Tomorrow.  Daylight.  I must wait for the sunrise.  I must think of the new life.  When the dawn comes tonight will be a memory too, and a new life will begin.

But I will only think of that new life when I am there.

Right now, my life is here and this is where I will be.

This isn’t a time for us to be sad Tenielle.  I’m thankful for the time I have spent here.  The part of me that wants to go to college is the real me.  The part of me that wants to stay is my emotions.

So, I thank you, and I thank Jenna.  Because the two of you came into my life when several other friends of mine were leaving.  And if you hadn’t been there to cheer me up then I would not be where I am today.

The two of you saved me from a lot of heartache.  And by doing that you saved my life.  

When one person saves another’s life, he or she has saved the world in time.

Tenielle, both you and Jenna have saved the world.  Every time you made me laugh, you saved another person’s life.

All I can say is thank you.

Love, Jacob.

April 17, 1994 – Sunday – 8:17 a.m.

It’s Sunday Morning!

Everyone is getting ready for church.

Something happened yesterday.  Yesterday was not a good day.  I only found two joys in it.

One was when Marcus and Scott and I had a good laugh when I told Scott to fork off on the upcoming road.  He thought I had said something else.

The other was when I was at San-Lee Park and I took off my sandals to run barefoot in the grass.

The rest of yesterday hurts.

It hurts a lot.  But the grass in which I ran barefoot was alive again.  There is hope somewhere.

January 20, 1994 – Thursday – 11:45 p.m.

School was cancelled for today because the brakes froze on the buses.  I’m sure we’ll have it tomorrow, though.

Tonight, Scott came and picked me up  and we went roller skating.  I didn’t know how, so after busting my butt all night, I finally got the hang of it (sort of).  Jenna and Tenielle invited me to go with them to the next Christian Music Night that they have at the Skate Rink.  I didn’t want to make a fool out of myself in front of them, so I got some practice in.

Cheryl, Sherry, and Sherry’s sister Megan were there.  Megan was watching Shurby’s kids.  It was a lot of fun.  We ate at Pizza Hut afterwards and laughed our heads off at every little thing.

Thank you Jesus for laughter and joy.

 

November 2, 1993 – Tuesday – 9:35 p.m.

Retrospect is sort of happening right now.  My mom found my fourth grade yearbook.

Fourth grade!  Nate is in third grade right now.  And I’m a senior.  What happened?  

Everyone goes through this.  Everyone goes through grade school and middle school and high school.  Some even go through college.  They are surrounded by all those people.  All those different dreams.  Each individual with their own past and perception.  And each one shapes the other into who they will be.

Youth.  The shaping of one’s existence.

When I hear adults talk, the one thing that stands out in their conversations is their youth.  Why?

Whatever the reason, it is all happening to me right now.  In fact, half of it has already flown by.

In my life, there are two separate areas of my youth: school and church.

So many people are shaping me during these days.  Their words, their actions, their existence.  The way they smile, the way they make me laugh.  The way they hate me.  The way they love me.

Would I be the same person if Wynne didn’t always give me a hard time at school?  Would I be the same person if I didn’t see Lisa’s beautiful eyes every day?  Would I be the same person if Ryan went to another church?

Obviously, I would be a very different person.  And it works in reverse, too.  I’m affecting the lives of people I encounter every day.  Either positively or negatively.  I wonder which it is?  It’s up to me.  I see that now.  I matter.  Everything I do and say matters.  I can change the entire world simply because I was around some people on this planet during their youth.

Jesus, please help me change it for the better.