January 1, 1998 – Thursday – 2:30 p.m.

Man cannot walk on water.  That is impossible; at least in man’s eye.  But Jesus did it, and not only Jesus, but Peter too.

If Peter had enough faith to walk on water, then why can’t I fly?

The people of this world, of these cities, these town, they are only content with walking, with standing, with sitting.

But I know I have wings inside me.  I can feel them every day.  Do I only have to believe? But I do believe!  I believe I can fly higher, higher in love, higher in worship, higher in health.

Yet the people who like to sit around want to shoot me down, but I can’t and won’t let them ruin me.

I have to fly.

I have to use my wings or I will die!

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December 28, 1996 – Saturday – 10:21 p.m.

Danny and Peter came over last night.  We played Life with Nate.  It was fun.  They are the greatest of friends.  We have a long history together.

My parents went to a funeral and came back to say they saw Jason and Christi.  They both want me to write them and Christi said I should come to her New Year’s Eve party on Tuesday.  If I remember correctly, I stopped by there last year after church on New Year’s Eve.  How fitting that the first and last minutes of 1996 would be spent with Christi.

Mom and Nate and I went shopping in Durham after I got off work.  I bought the That Thing You Do soundtrack.  Before we left for Durham though, we stopped by Aunt Sis’s house on the outskirts of Siler City.  Her place is near where we used to live when I was in elementary school.  As I walked through the front door, I realized it had been several years since I stepped foot in that house.  What a playground that area used to be for me, as well as for Danny and Peter.  We explored those woods between our houses like crazy.  Kevin and I even got lost once and Henry got so mad at us.

Wow, I’ve known Danny and Peter for 14 years.  I didn’t know it was possible to know someone for that long.

Well, three days remain.  What will 1997 bring?

December 27, 1996 – Friday – 5:11 p.m.

I called Sharon last night.  She told me that Allen and Curtis were back in town as well as Tracey and Murrell.  They were getting ready to leave for Disney World to attend a Christian convention of some sort.  I could have gone, but I needed to spend the holidays making money and not just spending it.

I also called Vince.  He’s doing good, but he is homesick for Lees-McRae; as am I.

There are only four days left in 1996.  It’s about over.

A year in which I got snowed in at my own house as desperately missed school.  I played Bearclaw as well as Polonius.  I stage managed Greater Tuna and went skiing three times.  I broke my pinky finger and had surgery on my lip.  I went to Arizona and Nevada for the first time.  I flew on an airplane, and drove through the desert.  I worked at McDonald’s and flirted with Mon Mon.  I ran the box office and the lights during summer theater.  I directed skits and plays with the kids during Vacation Bible School.  I went sledding with Murrell, drove to Boone with Laura, ushered with Dawn, talked deeply with Sherry, swung on the swings with Debbie and Jessica, and talked about the Lord with Abigail.  I went to Atlanta with Curtis, Tampa with the gang, New York with Vince, and Johnson City with Jeni.  I wrote a play. I met Josh, Timothy, and made new memories with new and old friends.  I stared out my window at the beautiful mountains.  I laughed a lot.  And even cried some.

I am happy with this year.

I spent it with people I truly love.

How could I ask for more?

January 4, 1996 – Thursday – 11:25 a.m.

The new year has begun well, unlike the last year.  New Year’s Eve was spent at Abundant Life with Jenna and Tenielle.  We praised the Lord together, sang a lot of wonderful songs, and laughed.  When it was all over, I drove home alone, but first I stopped by Christi’s house.  I knew she was having a party.  It was about 30 minutes into the new year.  There were a lot of people I didn’t know there, so I didn’t stay long.  I just told Christi that I wanted to stop by in case I didn’t see her before she left for college.

I was going to go back to school on the 3rd, yesterday, but I called the courthouse and discovered that what Michael told was wrong and I don’t need to be there until the 2nd of February.  Therefore, I’m not going back until Saturday the 6th.

So, yesterday evening, I got in my mother’s car and spent some time with two of the greatest people ever created.  Jenna and Tenielle and myself drove around Sanford, having the greatest time.  We had to cash a check for their mom, then we went to Walmart and dropped off my film so it could be developed within an hour.  Then we went to Food Lion and bought some things for their mom.

While the film was being developed, we went to Buchanan Park; the park near where Veronica used to live.  I had both my journal and my camera with me.  Tenielle wanted me to let her read something, so I let her read November 22, 1995.  They hadn’t seen While You Were Sleeping, and they wanted to rent it.

So, after we took some pictures in the old forest near there that wasn’t there anymore because it had all been chopped down for wood, we went to get my pictures, rent the movie, and grab a snack before heading home.

They enjoyed the movie; their mom even liked it.  Tenielle leaned on my shoulder as we watched and then she would look at me and laugh whenever something funny happened.

I wonder if what I want to find in Laura or some other girl is what I already have in Tenielle.  We have nothing to hide from each other.  We laugh together all the time.  A simple beautiful 14-year-old who knows only that I adore her and see her as one of my best-friends.  When I’m around her, I don’t have a care in the world.  What will become of her and I?

My pictures turned out nice.  I have a nice one of Allen, Vince, and Dan in front of Heaton Christian Church.  And I have a great one of Charlie and Kate, which reminds me, Charlie is graduating after this coming semester.  I owe him my life.  He helped me find my place at Heaton and Lees-McRae.  I appreciate him now, but I know I will appreciate him 100 times more after he is gone.

On the other hand, Kate is a Sophomore just like me, and if she’s around for two more years, then I guess that means Charlie will be close by.

And the picture of the Christmas Play made me miss those kids so much.  I can’t wait to get back home!

December 30, 1995 – Saturday – 5:00 p.m.

Last night was interesting.  Scott and I went to Asheboro.  He wanted to see Toy Story, so I saw it again for the third time.  It was still funny and magical.

After the movie, we just drove around from Asheboro to Pittsboro to Sanford to Siler City.  We had a good talk.  Scott has been through a lot since I last saw him.  He has gotten himself into some weird relationships, but he is good now and seeing a decent girl.  He has a steady job, is getting his own place, and now wants to get married.

I guess it’s the next logical step, but it made me appreciate the fact that I was going to college.  I want a steady job and I want to get married, but I could tell that Scott’s mind hadn’t grown, his worldview hadn’t expanded, he had just surrounded himself with other people who weren’t going to college and it felt like they weren’t really benefitting each other.

This morning was really difficult.  I am so used to waking up in my own room with no one there to get in the way and everything working smoothly.  Everything went so wrong this morning and I got really homesick and angry.

My own mother, rather than saying she understood what I was going through and trying to empathize with me, just said that if I acted that way when I was married that I wouldn’t be married for long.

I asked her why she always has to bring marriage up with me.  Just because she got divorced didn’t mead I would.  I told her that who I am now, the angry person that I am, the frustrations, the sadness; it’s not me.  I can’t be me in this house.  I was me when I was on that stage at Heaton Christian Church surrounded by all of those children in Lone Star Gulch.  I can be me in Banner Elk, because there I feel loved and I love and it feels like home and I feel a beating heart in my chest!

Home is where the heart is.

I couldn’t stand it anymore.  I was in tears.  I grabbed the rollerblades that Vince let me borrow and I drove to Sanford.  I rollerbladed at Kiwanis, listened to my new Enya tape and tried to remember me.  I even read all of the journal entries in this section that I wrote while at home in Banner Elk.

I’m doing a lot better now.

As I was driving back, I realized that 1995 was over.  I don’t have my other journals with me, so I will just have to depend on my memory for this.

In 1993 you read about a 17-year-old loving a youth group that would eventually fall apart by the time 1994 arrived.  I got a job at McDonald’s, I dreamed Winter Dreams, I met Emily, and just before the year ended I met Jenna and Tenielle.

In 1994 I wrote to Emily while adoring and being adored by my new friends Jenna and Tenielle.  I went to Deep Creek with Jonathan.  I went to Fishnet.  I said goodbye as a storm blew me away to a world I began to love.

I was taken to Cincinnati.

In fact, I was in Cincinnati when 1995 began.  But I threw Cincinnati away and Emily and I wrote and fell in love with each other’s written words.  A summer of McDonald’s, water gun fights, movies, Fishnet, and Crestview came and went as well as my heart.  A wonderful semester began with my birthday, new friends, and Antigone.  Others saw me as talented.  My pen pal came back to me, and now I dream of a beautiful girl and a beautiful cottage while saying goodbye to the waterfall as it flows back to Florida.

And then the snow came, and the Christmas play, but I had to say goodbye and grew horribly homesick the first day I was away.

. . .

And so 1996 is just over a  day away.  I try to find a single phrase to sum up 1995, but I can’t.

All is said and done.  The unspoken words cannot be taken back.  I will not try to forget.  I will not try to remember.

Is it really just a little planet.?

Do I have any control?

Are my smiles and frowns really mine?

I often wonder if I’m really on this little planet.  If this is really my face.  It’s as if I was in heaven, at home, and the Lord came up to me and said, “I’m sorry Jacob, but it’s your time.  You have to go down to earth.  You have to have a body, and you have to try and survive down.  It won’t take long, just a little while.  And don’t worry, I’ll help you until it’s time to return.”

It’s like I was handed a mask and told I wasn’t able to take it off.  Only God can do that.

Do people see the mask, or do they see me?

What do I see?

I don’t know, and I’ll drive myself crazy trying to figure it out.  All I know is that I’m on my way home; not only to Banner Elk, but to Heaven.

And I have only one wish, just one thing I pray…

That I remember only the good days, that I remember all of the best days.  That I forget the pain, the shame and that I only remember the joys, only the love.

Only the love, as I walk on the roads under heaven.

January 1, 1994 – Saturday – 10:33 p.m.

We left Virginia in the morning and after we got home, Kevin and I went to visit Danny and Peter.  I’m home now and it feels so good.

Well, here it is.  1994 arrived.

Although 1993 was absolutely great, I know much more will happen in 1994.  First of all, graduation, then the summer, we’re talking about going to Deep Creek twice this year.  Next is college, and on and on it goes.  It’s going to be amazing!

I can’t wait until church tomorrow.  There was no youth group tonight.

I don’t make New Year’s Resolutions, cause then I’ll just break them.

But anyway, it’s the beginning of 1994 and of my 5th Book of Days!

Good night Lord and may I sleep in your perfect peace.

December 31, 1993 – Friday – 3:40 p.m.

Hi!  Last night I had a dream.

But first, welcome to my 5th Book of Days!  It’s almost 1994!

Okay, the dream I had last night was so real, I’ll try to explain it the best I can:

I was at church.  I was with someone.  A girl.  I don’t know how she got there, but the girl was Emily.  We were outside preparing to go home.  I said something like, “Well, either Henry lets us drive the other car or we have to ride home with him.”  Next thing I know, Henry is telling Kevin that he has to ride home with him so Emily and I can drive home together and be alone.  Kevin questions him, but Henry says thats just the way things are.  But suddenly Emily shows up standing next to her own car and says, “We can take mine.”  I repeat what she says and Clay agrees.

At first, it seemed like Emily was driving and we were having a conversation.  We said about four or five sentences to each other, I can’t remember what, but the next thing I know, I’m driving, but I’m still in the passenger seat and the steering wheel is on my side.  Emily is lying down in the seat and her head is lying in my lap.  With one hand I am driving and I ask her something along the lines of, “What do you want?”

She kisses me and says, “That’s what I want.”

Don’t laugh, but for the next five minutes we are kissing while I’m driving and keeping one eye on the road.

Suddenly we are in the parking lot of the Siler City Motor Lodge and my Dad and Kevin and Grandma are there to pick me up.  Isn’t that weird?

So it seems that Emily is gone and we are all getting into my Dad’s car.  Then Emily comes back with gifts and says, “I just want to say that it was great meeting all of you.”  The gift for my Dad was an application to fill out so she could write my Dad.  Grandma got a lot of famous newspaper articles.  I don’t know what Kevin got, but I received three tapes and three CDs of Broadway musicals.  I don’t even own a CD player.  I also got newspaper articles about the musicals.  

We said goodbye.  And the rest of us got into the car.  Emily came back again and gave me a picture of a key that she had cross-stitched.  There was a poem on it as well, relating to it being the key to her heart.

Then we promised we would call the other person soon and it was over.  She was gone.

When I woke up, I was so happy and I was wondering where my tapes were.  It took me forever to figure out it had all been a dream.

I was so disappointed.  What did all that crazy stuff mean?

I wonder if I’ll see Emily again.  Hopefully we’ll plan our Deep Creek trips to be at the same time this summer.

This past summer, when we played card for three hours, was so wonderful.  We started out playing spades; I think I didn’t know how to play, so she said she would teach me.  I sat next to her and she explained everything.  I watched her play as she told me what she needed and why.  One time she said that she needed an eight and then it showed up on the table.  She laid her forehead against the side of my head and whispered, “Whomp, there it is,” as she giggled.  I was so shocked.  She touched me.  She whispered to me and me alone.  It was like she was there with me and completely ignoring the other seven handsome young men surrounding her.  I wish I could make you understand how beautiful this girl was.  Girls this beautiful aren’t supposed to show guys like me that much attention.  It’s just not how I’ve come to see the way the world works.

Later on, she needed a partner in a card trick she wanted to show us.  All the other guys immediately raised their hands and volunteered, but she picked me.  By the end of those three hours, we had an entire system of nonverbal communication going.  In order to make the trick work, I would tap her underneath the table on her knee to let her know which side of the card I was going to point to; it was a complicated card trick.

Anyway, 1993 is almost over.  Here I am at the end of the year, with it’s last hours fading away, and I’m not thinking about Veronica, or Ryan, or Christi, or even Jenna or Tenielle; but about Emily, a girl I saw for only three hours, half a year ago.  

Almost a year ago, God told me that it would all begin in 1993.  Was he referring to Emily?  I don’t know.  But either way, He was right.  It did begin.  So much happened that will lead me into the years to come.