August 3, 1997 – Sunday – 11:30 p.m.

I sit in Rachel’s house in Sterling, VA.  Chrysalis is over.

P.C. was my roommate for the weekend and he kinda reminded me of Vince.  A wonderful person with a wonderful life ahead of him.  He has a problem with his left arm.  A part of his upper bone is hollow and he has gone through several surgeries to fix it and has a huge scar because of it.  They’ve had to take bone out of his leg to try and fix it and because of this he can’t join the Navy like he’s always wanted to.  This was a hard time for him in his life, but he met a girl on the Internet named Lisa.  They began to email each other.  Then they wrote to each other.  Then they called each other.  And then they visited each other.  She’s in Iowa and he’s in Virginia.  They are now boyfriend and girlfriend and they will start school together out in Boulder, Colorado.  They’ll be freshman together.  After he showed me her picture, I was amazed.  She was so beautiful.  I didn’t know girls that pretty talked on computers.

Sean, always seated in a wheelchair, was never seen without a smile on his face.  Kay is soon to donate a kidney to her brother.  Colleen, a beautiful 25-year-old, who lost her little brother to a rare disease when she was 15.  Then she bore her own son as teenager, but then the father left them both.  She said the death of her brother tore her from God, but the eyes of her baby brought her back to him.

After hearing her talk of her brother, I wrote her a poem:

I said hello

I say goodbye

I saw you live

And now you die

But death is life

And life is love

Love is God

Eternal from above

So I’ll see you soon

There’s no need to cry

I too am changing

And to you I’ll fly

I found out later that the poem made her cry.  When I said goodbye to her today, she hugged me so tight.  Her lips said nothing, but her eyes shouted a desperate “thank you.”

And there was Vanny, who tried to commit suicide twice before, but now only smiles as bright as the sun.

And that was just a few.  There were so many stories full of death and tragedy.  But I don’t have those stories.  My tragedies are Bs on papers and mixed emotions.  I still have my family, my virginity, my sanity, my life, my legs, my health.

But there is one tragic story in my life.  I discovered this weekend that I am capable of so much more love.  I’ve been keeping it inside and only sharing it with a select few.  Now it’s time to give it to the world.

I spoke up at the gathering and told the group that each one of them was beautiful and I thanked God for allowing me to add their eyes and names to my collection.  Some came to me and said I seemed very Christlike.  They said they saw Jesus in me.  If so, then perhaps I am beginning to live a Christian life.

Rachel told me that others told her I seemed very creative.  People are so good to me.  God is so good to me.  So, here I am God.  I’m ready.  I don’t know everything, but I know you.

Here I am.

I’ve shown up.

 

June 10, 1997 – Tuesday – 12:45 a.m.

A new Tuesday.

Forty-five minutes have already vanished.

What to write?  What to remember?

I spent time with Samarah today.  She told me of her only guy friend Lee.  She said he bought her 100 white roses one time and never asked for anything in return.  She said he was the only guy that loved her for her and never tried to sleep with her.  I wondered then why she referred to him in past tense.  Finally she said he was killed by a drunk driver two years ago.

What am I doing?

I received a letter from Rachel today, simply thanking me for my visible walk with the Lord.

I used to be full of so many words, but now I’m speechless.

Sheltered from pain

Full of thought

I have lived among roses

Someone else chopped off the thorns.

Wrinkles from my smile

Proof of my constant grin

I glide down the curly hair of joy

Into the lap of loved ones.

My sorrow is not worth noting

My pain should not be considered

Others hurt worse than me

And I can’t take their pain.

I reach for the moon

Others only reach for their mirror

I live in grace

Others in the emptiness of their reflection.

Why me?

Why was I chosen?

Shirley someone else…

Yet me!

I am nothing

I am no better

I simply grew up in the truth

Others grew up in lies.

I’m seen as odd

But this faith is so normal

My sword is of live-giving pages

Theirs if of venom-dipped words.

The clock away is ticking

The water faucet is dripping

Each second is clicking

And I still have my grin.

Will others find that smile

And live in the eternal while

The sun has gone down today

Will come again tomorrow to stay

At least for a little while.

March 5, 1996 – Tuesday – 6:00 p.m.

I went to the doctor today.  What he did three weeks ago by resetting my finger and putting a cast on it didn’t work.  I have to go into surgery on Thursday.  They will put a pin into my finger.  This all came as a shock.  I figured I would just go into the hospital and get my cast off, but instead I had to pee in a cup, get a shot, etc.  I got a little bummed, but Vince was with me and he made it fun.

I will miss classes on Thursday.  That also disappointed me.

In my American Literature class today, all we did was read poetry by Robert Frost.  That’s what we were going to do Thursday as well.

One poem we read today really struck me.  It was called Nothing Gold Can Stay.

Nature’s first green is gold

Her hardest hue to hold

Her early leaf’s a flower

But only so an hour

Then leaf subsides to leaf

So Eden sank to grief

So dawn goes down today

Nothing gold can stay

Nature’s first growth is gold, but then turns to green.  The early leaf resembles a flower, but turns to a leaf shortly thereafter.  The gold is not there for long.  The leaf turns to a leaf of lower quality.  Eden was perfect, but sin came.  The sun came up but it always goes down.  Anything that is good, will eventually fade away.

$160 fine

20 hours of community service

a broken finger

surgery

Life has been difficult for me, but I can still smile.  At least I’m not bored.

I’ll soon be off to explore the west, and I’ll watch that golden sun descend in a desert valley.

A single day is a very good thing, but it can not stay.

Another one must come, so it too can play.

July 16, 1995 – Sunday – 11:06 p.m.

I’m back home from Fishnet.

Friday was a good day.  I went to most of the programs and heard many great speakers like Winkie Pratney and Josh McDowell.  Steve Camp was in concert that night.

We met two guys in their early 20s.  They were from North Carolina and their names were James and Jonathan.  They fit right in with us and we had so many laughs.

Then Saturday came!  Another great day!  Rebecca St. James sang that night.  I got her autograph for Kevin on a huge poster.

I let it all go that night.  I ran and jumped around on that Virginian hillside cathedral.  I shouted Hallelujah so loud!  I sang so many songs.  I smiled at the Lord and felt him smiling at me.

That night, last night, would be my last night for a while at Fishnet.  And I realized that, sadly.  But so many new and different things occurred after the service on that wonderful night.  We got a visit from a woman named Rhonda with two small children named Skinard, age 6, and Andrew, age 4.  They came over because lightning was in the sky and the wind was all of a sudden on a move.

Skinard fell asleep while we were all sharing what Fishnet meant to us.  Then he woke up crying.  His stomach hurt.  It turns out that he hadn’t used the bathroom in the past four days because he was scared to use the Port-O-Let.

Well, the wind blew harder and we had to take the tarp down.  I was trapped under it with the two kids.  They were scared and crying.  Everyone was outside and trying to hold the tarp down.  Skinard got so scared from the wind and the thunder that he finally relaxed his bowels and let the poop flow.

There I was, under a blue tarp with white lightning all around, holding two extremely tanned kids, one whose white butt was now covered with smelly brown crap.  A colorful evening.

I tried my best to comfort those two scared kids while their mom took down their tent so they could leave that night and return to their safe and warm Richmond home.  I tried to tell the kids some funny stories and jokes, but they just really wanted me to pray.  After I finished one prayer, Andrew immediately asked me to pray again.  I stayed with them for 30 minutes before their mom returned and ran them down to her packed car.

The rest of us piled into the van so we wouldn’t get struck by lightning.  The storm passed and some went to sleep in their tents, but others, like myself, slept in the van.

Morning came and we sadly packed everything up and left one of the most wonderful places on this planet.

Now, let me take the time here to continue the story of some of these individuals.

Lisa and I got along pretty well.  She is my high school buddy; one of the two or three that lasted.  There was a moment where Lisa and I hugged, our cheeks pressed tightly together, and I became very thankful for this girl whom I’ve known for the past five years.  You are a special friend to me, Lisa.

Kristen, my new-found-Fishnet-friend, my Forrest Gump-puke-attack-helper, and my dear friend for life, grew more this Fishnet.  She tries so hard to do what is right.  She is a good wife.  She has a good husband.  Her husband calls me her boyfriend.  She doesn’t understand though that life is a collection.  She loves Fishnet and wishes it would never end.  I am her buddy.  In her words, she would point to me and say, “Dag, I love that mug!”

Dana and I grew closer.  She is a very funny person and I hope that we can see each other more at school this next year.  Bradley, Dana’s brother, will be a freshman at ASU in the fall.  He wants me to come see him.

While at Fishnet, Bradley came up with some small poems I thought were hilarious.  I’ll write them in here to amuse myself later:

Wind blow

Wind blow

Sally Smith

And Joe Blow

What do you know?

Not much

Why?

Belly button

Belly button

That’s what I’ve been huntin’

I found it in my tummy

So now I feel like a dummy

I searched all my life

And it caused me so much strife

Oh my

Why?

He’s a funny guy and I’m proud to call him my friend.

Tony and Leslie, as well as Jonathan and James are some of the most unique individuals I know.  These past five days were the greatest and they helped make them that way.

Thank you everyone.

There were two others with me at Fishnet, but I’ll explain them to you in a minute.

Kevin picked me up from High Falls and I gave him the Rebecca St. James autographed poster.  He seemed to like it.  He actually hasn’t said much to me.

I came home to my Visa bill and a clean bathroom, but I prefer the dirty ones at Fishnet.  Jonathan is not here.  He has moved out.

Veronica and her family were at church tonight.  She doesn’t like my haircut and she let me know that.  I talked to her mom for the longest time tonight.  After youth group, there was a party for Pastor Steve and Nancy’s 15th wedding anniversary.

Shirley is the greatest.  She loves her family so much yet she is so concerned with my life; the way I wish my own mom would be.  I told her that it is sad that my home church feels like a different world.  In my world I only have two special faithful friends.  And they are not Jenna and Tenielle.  Of course, they will always be great, but Jenna only sees Sam these days and Tenielle, well, she is just too young to know.

Shirley said she was sorry that I was lonely and to keep my chin up.  I sure have missed Shirley this past year.

Veronica has grown up in body.  She was holding Jasmine and when she handed her to me, her breast ran down my hand.  That part of her sure has grown as fast as puppies grow.  And it hit me.  This little girl is less than a year younger than Emily when I first met her.  Emily has seen a different slice of life than Veronica has.  In talking to Veronica I discovered her maturity has grown as fast as rocks grow, which is to say not much at all.

I told Shirley that all of my true friends were not of this world.  These two friends are not of this world, but they were with me at Fishnet.

The first one’s name is Emily.  She seemed to be constantly with me.  It really felt like I could see her and talk to her.  And I did.  I whispered little things to her.  Every time I thought of her, a smile filled my face.

The second and greater one’s name is Jesus.  Not only did I talk to him, but I worshipped, praised, and adored him.  I told him so many things.  I was smiling every minute.

So there it is.

Fishnet is gone, but with me.

Deep Creek may not even happen after all, at least not this year.

And an eclipse will occur in 17 days.

I showed Emily’s “big smile” picture to Nate earlier today.  He said, “Wow, she’s beautiful.”

“Yeah Nate.  She is.” I replied.

“I mean really beautiful.”

“Yeah, I know.”

Then he said, “She looks like you.”

I laughed, but he repeated himself and was serious.

I looked at her picture again and saw it in a way, but I also didn’t see it.  Then I remembered that saying that I’ve heard people say my entire life, “People, especially couples, who spend a lot of time together, begin looking like each other.”

Are Emily and I already becoming one?

And how will we look as we begin to spend more time with Jesus?

July 3, 1994 – Sunday – 10:30 p.m.

Can you believe it?  Today was actually a great day!

After church we went to Jenna and Tenielle’s to swim.  Rebecca was over there too.  And even though Kevin and Marcus were around everyone seemed to enjoy themselves.

Today, while I was changing in the bathroom I saw a diary of Jenna’s.  There were only two entries written in it, June 3rd and June 4th.  I’m sorry to say, but I read them both.  I was mentioned in both and in the second entry she said that Marcus gave her a yellow rose, but she didn’t accept it.

I’ve been around Jenna and Tenielle for five days in a row.  I’ve been over at their house for four days in a row.  If things go how I want them to, then I’ll see them tomorrow as well.  And as you know, tomorrow is the 4th of July.

Something is up with Scott.  Before youth group started last night, he said he was going to get his Bible, since he had some time.  But he never came back and he wasn’t at church today either.  Earlier that day, he called me at Jenna and Tenielle’s.  He said he was trying to get a hold of me all day.  Then, when we before youth group started he sat alone while Tenielle was off talking to Kevin and Marcus was talking to Jenna.

Scott has no one special in his life.  Cheryl is the only girlfriend he’s had in the past two years and she is now dating the very handsome Joel, who is super muscular and Scott is totally overweight.  It has to hurt.  He doesn’t even have friends to talk to like I have in Jenna and Tenielle.  He thinks that Kevin and Tenielle and Jenna and Marcus are couples.

But they are only friends, just like I’m their friend.

Anyway, he never came back and I’m worried about him.

I have about 55 days until my departure.  And each day as I get closer and closer to the 28th of August, I get closer and closer to the people around me.

Deep Creek is almost here and soon I will stand over the creek that runs next to the Pizza Hut in Bryson City, NC.  There I will think of how the past year has gone since I last stood on that ledge.

My Senior year.

Remember when I shed a lightning tear?

It was over Ryan.

Now I hardly know who she is.

Then I wrecked my stepfather’s car.

Objects in the rearview mirror may appear closer than they are.

Inseparable friends I thought we were.

Now I’m not so sure.

Then Jonathan and I took a College Day

To a place so far away.

Then the sun went down and by the moon two birds did fly

Now, as they circle me, I don’t want to say goodbye.

I seem close to all of this; not far.

But objects in the rearview mirror may appear closer than they are.

I have a gift of 55 days.  I wish I could take the flowers with me, but they must grow in the Son’s rays.

Some things just cannot be.

My winter dream did change.

And they will probably change again.

I’ll soon have a new room to rearrange.

All around will be be beautiful women.

But now I will continue to drive my car,

Until I cross the bar.

From time to time I will look back far, 

And objects in the rearview mirror will appear closer than they are.

June 8, 1994 – Wednesday – 1:20 p.m.

A week ago I attended my last day of school.

A month ago I wiped cake icing on Jenna’s face.

Today I went to Wal-Mart while it was pouring down rain and I bought The Lion King soundtrack and some boxers.

The movie, however, does not come out for another two weeks.  The music is great!

And it’s true.  There is more on this planet to see than can ever be seen.  There is more to experience than can ever be experienced.  There is more to find than can ever be found.

I can’t do it all, but each time I see Jenna smile I feel like I’ve experienced and accomplished everything there is to do in this world all in that single moment.

Oh God, you made her face

You put such beauty in this place

This beautiful flower and her grace

Can I relive the thirteenth of May?

May 22, 1994 – Sunday – 11:09 p.m.

What a day!

Today was the church fellowship at Kiwanis Park.  But I’ll begin with church in the morning.  I sat next to Sara, Jonathan’s Sara, but not Jonathan’s Sara anymore.  He hasn’t said a word to her since Carowinds.  And last night he went to the prom with Vicky.  But all of that means nothing to me.

Tenielle and Jenna rode with me to the park.  Kevin rode with the Neals and Marcus had to ride on the bus with the kids.  A boy named Victor was with Jenna and Tenielle.  He is 9-years-old and their mom babysits him sometimes.

They all brought water guns and I was soaked by the end of the day.  To tell you the truth, so many different things happened at the park that I can’t even remember them all.  But Becca brought a friend named Ashley and she and Kevin spent a lot of time together.  This upset Tenielle.  Ashley is only thirteen.

I believe my brother is beginning to have a serious problem.  College and middle school just shouldn’t mix.  Kevin’s pursuit is crossing the friend line.

Jenna and I spent a lot of time together and we had some nice talks.  The same with Tenielle.

Marcus has interest in Jenna.  He has had interest in her for a very long time.  She spends time with him and every time she calls me she always to know if he is there.  Today she asked if I thought she liked him.  I said, “No,” because it sounded like that was what she wanted to hear.

Truthfully, I don’t know and I don’t really care.  It is not my problem, nor my business.

Kevin, I believe, is on the phone with Marcus now, because Marcus just got off the phone with Jenna and Tenielle after a two-hour conversation.  Kevin and Marcus were discussing the Ashley, Kevin, and Tenielle thing.  Again, it is not my business, nor my problem.

I want nothing to do with Jenna and Tenielle beyond our wonderful friendship.  I told Jenna today that I want no one to like me romantically because it brings too many complications.  I will start over in Banner Elk at Lees-McRae College.  I know that my relationship with Jenna and Tenielle couldn’t possibly get any better than it is right now.  Each time they laugh, each time they smile, each time they reach out and touch my face; that is all I will ever need from them.

Anne is back from college for the summer.  I told Tenielle that I wasn’t sure I could come back for the summer; that it might hurt too much.

The real me is out there somewhere.  The real Jacob, both young and old.

These days are only my youth.  Although they must be of some importance to the rest of my life, they are not everything.

It has been over six months since I saw Les Miserables on the stage.

That is unbelievable.

Perhaps this moment is the perfect moment to write down the poem I wrote for Tenielle’s drawing.  I couldn’t fit the whole poem on her drawing, so she got a much shorter version, but here is the whole thing, which I based on The Lady of Shalott.

 

I stand here and shiver

The trees around me quiver

I thought I’d stay here forever

But I must move down the river

            Flowing to Lees-McRae

I go up and down the people go

Gazing where the lilies do not grow

To a place down below

            Oh spare me of this day

 

But in each day there are still delights

Beautiful and amazing magic sights

I survive through the silent nights

Waking to the gorgeous lights

            Not thinking of Lees-McRae

But when the moon was overhead

Grew too young flowers, not yet wed

“Will this happen again?” said

            I on that day

 

In a way I was straining

Like the yellow woods were waning

However, never was I complaining

Nor the winter sky raining

            Far from Lees-McRae

And at the closing of each day

A smile on my face did lay

And I began to think of far away

            Towards Lees-McRae

 

Away went the snowy white

Everything still seemed right

But though the Phantom was not in the light

I began to hear the Music of the Night

            Still far from Lees-McRae

Yet, I kept running along

The two flowers still among

The day I sing my last song

            Will be a sad day

 

Who am I and what is here?

Is the lighted palace near?

I so often hear the cheer

But it’s the crossing which I fear

            Towards Lees-McRae

What God?  Why this face?

Why such beauty in this place?

The two flowers and their grace

            Can it already be May?