January 1, 2001 – Monday – 8:15 p.m.

Two nights ago, on December 30th, I asked Anna to marry me.

She said ‘yes.’

I hid the ring in an empty container of her favorite Ben & Jerry’s ice-cream. I had filled it with small weights and stored it in the fridge to make it look and feel like a cold container full of ice-cream. She opened it and stopped breathing. She wasn’t expecting it so soon. I cried. What a wonderful little story.

I am changing.

Every day I am losing a little bit more of me.

We are planning a July 7th wedding. Over the next six months I will slowly move my stuff into her studio apartment in the historic Ghent neighborhood in Norfolk. I’m sure I’ll give or throw away many items I’ll no longer need.

I can’t believe what is happening. I’m marrying an amazing woman, a good, Godly woman. So many of my single-person perspectives just have no meaning any more.

So it is 2001.

When the ball dropped in New York, I was kissing Anna in Virginia Beach.

January 1, 2000 – Saturday – 2:28 p.m.

During first sunrise of the year 2000, I stood on the shores of the Outer Banks in North Carolina overlooking the Atlantic Ocean.  The fireworks at midnight were nice as well, but I wished Marie could have been with me for both epic moments.  I wished I could feel the warmth of her near me and see both of these beautiful types of lights reflect off her face.

Well, as it turns out, the world did not end and everything works fine.  All that Y2K nonsense for nothing.

Production week for my short film begins tomorrow.  We’ll shoot for a straight six days.  Uh, is my film the first film being shot in the new millennium?  The 16mm film stock was expensive, but we’re all ready to go.

Marie arrives on Tuesday and classes begin on Monday the 10th.

It is the year 2000.

And I have been redeemed!

 

December 31, 1998 – Thursday – 12:30 p.m.

It is the last day of the year.  Happy Birthday Christi!

And it is nearly the last day of the century.

Emily and I never went to a movie on Monday.  She left a message here on Wednesday night saying she had been in Atlanta for the past two days and now she is back in Tallahassee.  I flew down here from Virginia to see her and she goes to Atlanta, yet she writes letters to me saying, “In a perfect world, I could smell the salt of your skin.”

It doesn’t make any sense.  I want our story to be over.

So 1999 will begin soon.  I am going to spend the final night of this year at Brownsville Assembly of God.

Last night mom and I went to visit a local church and we ended up at Glad Tidings Assembly of God in Pace, FL.  There I met the oldest resident of Santa Rosa county.  She is 105 years old.

I often think that because I take the time to write my thoughts down on these blank pages that I’ve figured life out.  But then I look into the eyes of someone born in the 1890s and realize I don’t know anything.  She was all there too.  She had the clearest mind.  Oh God, may I get there some day.

I’ve found myself dreaming of Virginia Beach and Chesapeake.  It has happened again.  Another home has come.  I long for it now more than my mountains.

Oh Lord, don’t ever let me go.

I spent the first days of this year in Siler City and Sanford, then months in Banner Elk where I spent time with Sarah who decided to let me go before I would have to let her go.  I played Billy Bibbit on stage, spent a week in Kentucky, a weekend in Tampa, and thousand of moments with the greatest humans on the earth: Vince, Allen, Dan, Curtis, Tracey, Abigail, Ann-Marie, Josh, Ashley, Justin, Jessica, Lindy, Jeni and many more.  Jenny got married.  I graduated.  And I spent a month driving back and forth to Winston-Salem trying to hold onto a girl I knew was fading away.  I raised some money, flew to Africa, and returned to a brand new world of Christin, Sterling, and Kimberly; a world I now greatly miss.

I saw God move in South Africa, but as I grow older, I realize God is moving everywhere.

In addition to my one-act in the early months of the year, I also directed a beautiful Christmas show at Parkway Temple.  Regent allowed me to work on many film projects, and of course there was my job at the bookstore.  I visited Lynchburg, and now I am here in Milton, FL, where I rode with mom to New Orleans and saw the coast line in between.

I am 22-years-old.

The days are not getting any easier.

The days are not getting any longer.

All I can do is grab the hand of Jesus on one side of me, grab the hand of a good friend on the other side, and hope the rock on which we stand will remain.

The first days of 1999 will begin as the last days of 1998 are ending.  I’ll be attending the famous Brownsville Revival.

I fly out on the fourth and will land in the arms of Christin, for she is picking me up from the airport.

If all goes well, I hope to spend most of my days in Virginia Beach and Chesapeake during the final months of the century, for I have a very acute feeling that I won’t be there very long.

Heaven will be nice.

There are no goodbyes there.

December 3, 1994 – Saturday – 8:00 a.m.

I know I haven’t written in my journal in about a week, but all is well.

Final exams are two weeks away!

I talked to my dad.  On New Year’s Eve he is going to drive me towards Ohio to meet Jeni halfway, then I’ll ride home with her and spend the first few days of 1995 in beautiful Cincinnati.

Jeni and I are volunteering with Habitat for Humanity this morning; other students are helping out as well.  Later today I’m going to take Jeni out to see a movie and hopefully do some shopping.

Jenna and Tenielle were going to come and see me today, but they had to change their plans.

It still hasn’t snowed up here yet.  I thought for sure I’d see snow before December; the campus is nearly 4,000 feet above sea level.

Tracey and Derek are a couple now.  Derek is a performing arts student from New York.  He is in the directing class and he is directing a scene from A Few Good Men.  He asked me to play the part Tom Cruise plays in the movie version.

I’m excited!

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.