November 29, 1998 – Sunday – 10:40 p.m.

“Fall is walking us into a cold December wind.”

Oh, but my heart has never been warmer.  I spent the day with Sterling and Christen, though it felt like Jesus was there with us the whole time.  We went out to eat and then decorated Christen’s Christmas tree.  Sterling and I went shopping and then the three of us went to see Kathy Troccoli in concert.  Sterling and Christen were able to get her autograph.  The whole day was just filled with priceless memories.  It felt as though we never stopped laughing.  Even spilling strawberry cheesecake all over my pants was delightful, and Sterling and I have this little game where we look at each other and then run and stand in a place we’ve never stood before, then make a pose.

Life is unbelievably grand.  Jesus gives me a constant smile, and the fact that my smile is slightly crooked just blesses me all the more!

February 11, 1997 – Tuesday – 10:00 a.m.

After my wonderful rehearsal last night I went to Cannon Cottage to visit Jeni, Tracey, and Ann-Marie.  I was in a good mood and had a huge smile on my face.  They thought this smile meant I knew something about a guy one of them liked and they tried the whole night to wriggle it out of me.  But I knew nothing about a guy that might like one of them. And rather than them seeing joy on my face, they took that smile and made it about themselves.  They didn’t see me.  They only wondered how I might serve them.

Then they began to talk about me and why I am alone romantically.  Tracey said it was because I am not mysterious enough.  I give everything out in the beginning and that I’m so friendly and understanding and such a great listener, that the girl has nothing else to explore, or strive for, or fix in me.

I knew this already, but the words from someone else, stating that my honesty and strong character were also a weakness, caused me to grow very silent.  I was happy, yet hurting.

Sure, I am honest.  These girls think they know me, and they do, but only to the extent that I allow them.  They know who I am to them because I manage how they perceive me, but they don’t really know me.  And I doubt they’ve ever really tried.

My honesty frightens them.  My love frightens them.  They are simply too insecure in themselves to see how honesty and selfless love can serve them in a relationship.  They would rather play mindless games, gossip about who likes who, strive for mysterious first kisses from total strangers, and get a chill down their spine than learn more truth about my spirit or what I think about when I’m alone.  They never asked me why I was smiling; they only wondered what I might know about them that they didn’t already know.

These girls think they know what they want, but they can’t even see what they really need.

They think they know me, but they have no idea how hard it is to be me.  To have a heart like mine, to have the responsibility of being the one guy who’s trying to do things the right way and to pursue honesty and truth.

But since we are being honest, let’s get really honest.  Tracey’s statement that my honesty is unattractive and scary has more to do with the fact that her boyfriend slept around on her than it has to do with me.  She’s really making excuses for herself in an effort to some how live with her pain.  Girls always take it out on me when total jerks treat them like crap; like it’s my fault that my personality and character traits are in me and not in the guy they picked.

Oh God, I feel more alone now than ever.

July 7, 1996 – Sunday – 6:20 p.m.

As it grew close to 3:00 p.m. this afternoon, I was tearing up ticket stubs near the entrance to the theater.  I turned to my right and saw a face I recognized; a face that also once satisfied my hunger and thirst.

She approached me, her ticket in hand.

“Hi,” I said.

“Hey, oh don’t you look nice in that vest and bow tie!”

“Thanks.”

Then she came to me and put her right arm around my waist and her head on my shoulder.  “It’s good to see you.”

“Thanks, enjoy the show.”

The show began.  Allen and I went to join Curtis in helping some folks carry luggage up some stairs.  I was paid $23.50 for an hour and a half of work.

We went to eat dinner.

Then, at 5:30 p.m., I went back to the theater to catch the end of the show and possibly someone else.  I saw her at the foot of the stage, complementing the performers.  I went down and sat at the foot of the stage knowing she was headed in that direction.  She saw me and shook my hand.

“Oh, and you did a great job as well!” she laughed.  We said our goodbyes, but in the process I gave her my phone number and told her to let me know the dates she was coming to the other shows later in the summer so I could get better seats for her.  As I wrote my number down on her playbill she said, “Thanks, and hey, I’ll also call you just to see what’s up!”

“Great!”

And I saw her smile.

May 31, 1996 – Friday – 11:20 p.m.

An amazing day.  A remarkable day.  The greatest of them all, because it is now.

My last day at McDonald’s!  Omneya and I had a lot of fun today.  Every time we would pass by each other to get food she would find some way to tap me or punch me.  We said goodbye.  She seemed sad.  Perhaps I’ll see her again at Christmas.

Marcus and I went to the Lee Senior Graduation.  After the ceremony full of well-written, but poorly-delivered speeches, we got onto the field and tried to find Christi and Ryan.  It was crowded, and I couldn’t find either one.  Several minutes passed.  I told Marcus we should leave, and I turned around to go to the car and return to college without seeing my first major crush again…but then I saw a face.  A girl’s face who had turned to look at me.  It was a face I knew well, but her smile was different.  She had gotten her braces taken off.  I saw her last August when her card had broken down on HWY 421.  Her eyes brightened.  I knew she saw me.  Her smile grew bright and she said “hey.”

We hugged each other.

And those are the moments I think I live for.  All I need is for a pretty girl to see me, smile, and say “hello.”  I could get through life on that alone.

I asked her if she was still going to App. State.  She said yes.  I told her I would look her up.  She said “Yes, please do, that would be great.”

Then we said goodbye and I walked away.  She looked a little more grown up.  A very pretty smile.

Ryan, you have become so beautiful.  I will see you in the mountains my friend.

And I even saw Christi on the way back to the car, plus Jonathan’s old girlfriend Mandy.

A perfect night to close everything up until next time.

In the midst of it all, I turned and saw the full moon rising above the trees, feathering down on me.

Tomorrow…I go home!

June 9, 1995 – Friday – 10:00 p.m.

Last night Jonathan and I went to Fayetteville.  He got his nose pierced.  It thrilled me to watch someone experience something I will never do.  I just observed, so thankful to not need anything like that to bring me a sense of identity.  While waiting, a friend of Jonathan’s named Tammy walked in.  They knew each other from Pembroke.  They ran to each other and hugged each other.  She is around 24 and seems fun.

Jonathan shaved Kevin’s head.  He has no hair.  In a way it’s ugly and in a way it’s cool.  I got a good laugh.

Work was very hard today.  Ruth is getting on my nerves.  She threw her keys at me today.  I was angry, but I tried not to show it.

However, when I came home, joy was found in my mailbox.  I received my ticket for The Secret Garden on August 14th, the day I head back home, and a beautiful letter from Emily.  I’ll write it in my journal:

“Jacob,

Well, I am sitting in the middle of Hurricane Allison.  It is a rather exciting experience.  It is common here.  Everyone is taping up windows and gassing up their cars.  You should have seen the sky.  It was pink everywhere, with a sort of orange tint.  The moon was a giant crescent.  It was amazing!  I could see both the sun and the moon at 7 o’clock.  Now it is almost midnight and the air is dead.  I’m sitting outside waiting for the rain to come.  I love rain…it makes everything clean and soft and smooth.  The smell is wild!!  It’s almost like the ocean missed with blood.  Death is in the forecast.  It’s really eerie, but much to my amusement.

School was over May 26.  I’ve been silently going crazy with boredom.  I’m going to Michigan on June 12 and will return June 22.  I really need this vacation.  My sister is getting married July 8.  I’m throwing her a bachelorette party.  The rest of July, all I’m doing is volleyball and lifeguard school.  August is open except for volleyball.  I will be home, but I have practice everyday besides Saturday and Sunday.  If you can come I would be more than happy to make sure you have the best time of your life.  You will probably only want to come for four or five days.  There’s not much to do here and I will be at practice six hours a day.  There is stuff for you to do while I’m at practice though and I have plenty of friends who would be more than willing to entertain you.  I would really love for you to come.

I’m very pleased to hear about Jonathan.  He sounds like a fantastic guy.  I want to meet him some day.  I hope everything at home and work is going well for you.  I pray that you are the happiest person in the world!

I have been doing absolutely wonderful.  My mom and I are great.  My sisters treat me like a normal person again, and my dad is so fun.  My friends are really great, too.  My eyes have been shining so bright lately.  I smile all the time.  I am so happy.  I know who I am, what I want, and how to get it.  It feels good to feel good.  I had a problem caring for a while, but I recognized my problem and now I’m Emily!  Thank God that trial is over.

Don’t you love to smile?  It can change everything between two people.  When you see a stranger and smile they have a better day than if you would have frowned.  Just a simple smile can warm the cruelest of hearts.  It can do so much.  A teacher told me how much my smile made him feel so much better every day, because I was never sad.  He admired my smile often.  He was a good man.  Anyone who flatters me is good!  Ha ha!

Jacob, I love you!  I’m so happy I can just write anything and you will know its who I am and take it for what it is and not try to analyze it to death.  I hate people who over-analyze things and have totally opinionated conversations.  You’ve never been like that.  Thank you so much.  Here comes the rain!!  I have to go dance in it…

Don’t forget to dream of me!

I love you!

Your Angel, xxoo”

I smiled.

Emily?

What will become of you and I?

Some nights when Jonathan is out and Mike is working, I think of who I can call, but I have hardly no other friends I can turn to.

This Sunday marks the 13th anniversary of when E.T. opened in theaters on June 11, 1982.  Spielberg wanted a friend, someone to talk to.  That is why he made E.T.  He made it for himself.  E.T. came to this world by accident and he was eager to leave.  I wonder if after he went back to his home, his planet, if he realized that Earth was the better place to be.

I need my E.T.

I need my friend.

They call me E.T. at work because of my long neck.  Perhaps I need my Elliot, a friend to help me along on this strange planet.  I have one, his name is Jesus.  I love him.

How lovely that Emily’s initials are E.T.  She doesn’t even have a middle name.  We are both aliens.  She is my other red light in outer space.

This E.T. needs to go home.  Siler City has nothing.  Banner Elk has everything.

But before I can return to Banner Elk, it is my turn to see Emily smile.  That is my goal, then I’m confident the rest of my life can continue.

February 19, 1995 – Sunday – 3:30 p.m.

Church was wonderful this morning.  Laura’s family wasn’t there, so I didn’t get to see her.  Crystal wasn’t there either.  I borrowed Richard’s car to get there.  It felt good to drive again.  Now it takes me five minutes to get to church; back home it took me twenty-five.

After church, I ran lights for A Piece of My Heart and then came here to my room.  The show opens Tuesday.  It’s a good show and I’m glad I could help out.

Michelle, a girl here at school, asked me if Jeni and I would ever get back together.

“I don’t want that to happen,” I said.

And I don’t.  I don’t want her anymore.  Deep down inside me I wish she would go back to Cincinnati to be with her mother and just finish up school there.  I am not going to be her husband.  I don’t want to be.  However, I’m still thankful for her and I’m sure that I will appreciate her more in the future.  I pray that she find love, Lord.

Yesterday I did homework all day.  I did stop to watch a movie called The Seventh Sign that came on TV.  Demi Moore starred in it.  I thought it was pretty awesome!

That evening I decided to go for another walk with my Lord.

We walked along Elk River.  It was a nice night.  There was a small breeze out.  On our way back we stopped at the bridge and we stayed there for a while.

I told Him some stuff.  He told me some stuff.  I laughed.  He laughed.

I sang to Him.  He listened and smiled.

We had fun.

Then I said, “Lord, this has been one of the greatest nights of my life.  This cool winter air.  This beautiful waterfall and light mist that blows up in the air.  The sound of the rushing water and You next to me.  I’m so happy.  I don’t think I’ve ever been happier.  I could stay this way forever.”

“You can,” He said.

I smiled.  A huge smile.

These years will pass.  One by one.  But I’ll never lose my smile.  It’s the smile my Jesus gave me.

September 14, 1994 – Wednesday – 10:30 p.m.

What a wonderful evening!  That girl that I mentioned above, she goes to Heaton Christian Church.  Hopefully I’ll get to know her.

But rehearsal was great tonight.  I didn’t have to stay that long, so I went to FCA for about 30 minutes, but then I went back to the theater to lay out the dance floor.

In Mattress there are a lot of girls who only play Spanish Dancers.  One girl has been looking at me a lot for the past two nights.  Her eyes are just…it’s like they are drawing you in.  She had me.

Tonight as we laid the dance floor, the two of us began talking and then we began talking about Christian music, and then we started singing Christian music together.  It was great!  She has the most beautiful and graceful legs I have ever seen.  A pretty smile, everything.  She acts a little air-headed sometimes, but that actually makes her really fun to be around.  We talked for about 30 minutes and then it was time to go.  We walked up together with another girl, then we split up to go to our different dorms.  She said “bye.”

All of this and I don’t even know her name.

June 10, 1994 – Friday – 11:58 p.m.

As I am writing this it is becoming the 11th day of June, 1994.  Today dad and I saw City Slickers II and tonight I received my high school diploma.

It happened.  I graduated from high school.  Jenna and Tenielle were there.  They seemed to enjoy it.  I gave them a big hug!

I can’t believe it’s over.  All those people.

There was one thing that happened tonight.  It happened twice.  I can’t get it out of my mind.  A girl was near me while I was in the midst of the crowd after graduation.  I was talking to someone happily and then turned and I saw her and she smiled at me.  Then later, while talking to Jenna and Tenielle, I saw her looking at me.  I looked at her and she smiled like she had known me forever.

But this sophomore girl has only said four words to me since she came to high school.  Once, in the sight and sound section of Wal-Mart in Sanford, she said “hey.”  The other three words she spoke to me during switch day of my senior year.  She said, “Turn around Jacob” because she wanted to see how I had stuffed my butt to look more like a girl.

This girl is Renee and it is very unlikely that my eyes will ever see her smile again.  I thought of her the rest of the night.

I am leaving tomorrow to go to Virginia.  Everyone else from my graduating class is going to the beach, but that’s just not me.

My collection has grown.  My collection of farewells.

I will miss it.  I will miss them greatly.  It’s hard to know what to say, but all good things must come to an end.

I have a list.

A list of my own.

Schindler had his and I have mine.

His was a list of lives he’d saved.  Mine is simply a list of people I’ve shared existence with.  And I say goodbye to you.

We are the class of 1994.  You have shaped me.  And even those at Chatham Central who are not in the class of 1994, you have shaped me as well.  

Thank you Renee.  

Thank you for smiling at me.  

You made this graduation so wonderful.

August 23, 1993 – Monday – 4:48 p.m.

My senior year of high school started today, but I’ll get to that in a minute.

Yesterday was sort of depressing.  Henry got onto me about all this stuff.  I put up with it again.  Just one more year of him.

Church was great in the morning.  My and Ryan’s skit went great.  She looked so beautiful.  At night, we had a guest speaker named Duke.  He was super funny, but very motivating.  Jason is back and he was laughing so much.  And guess what, he forgot to edit my book, Eagle’s Path.  He didn’t even read it!  I was disappointed, but it was at least good to get it back.

School went fine.  My schedule for the first semester is Computer Applications, World Geography, Art III, and Spanish II.  The periods are 90 minutes long.  Everything went fine, but boy am I tired.

My summer is over.

The summer of ’93 is no more.

A year ago as I entered my junior year, I was practically in the same position that I am now.  Some stuff has changed, but not much.

I liked Ryan a year ago, and I still do now, only much more.  I started writing My Book of Days in November of ’92.  That doesn’t seem like a long time ago.

I just put in the CATS tape that Christi made for me.

Daylight
See the dew on a sunflower
And a rose that is fading
Roses wither away
Like the sunflower, I yearn to turn my face to the dawn
I am waiting for the day

Memory
Turn your face to the moonlight
Let your memory lead you
Open up, enter in
If you find there the meaning of what happiness is
Then a new life will begin

Memory
All alone in the moonlight
I can smile at the old days
I was beautiful then
I remember a time I knew what happiness was
Let the memory live again

Burnt out ends of smokey days
The stale cold smell of morning
A streetlamp dies – another night is over
Another day is dawning

Daylight
I must wait for the sunrise
I must think of a new life
And I mustn’t give in
When the dawn comes, tonight will be a memory too
And a new day will begin

Sunlight through the trees in summer
Endless masquerading
Like a flower as the dawning is breaking
The memory is fading

Touch me
It’s so easy to leave me
All alone with a memory
Of my days in the sun
If you touch me, you’ll understand what happiness is
Look, a new day has begun

Memory, my only connection to the past 17 years of my life.  The earlier years have faded away. But these recent years, the years to come…I’m writing them down to preserve them forever.

For anyone out there in the future reading this, please listen to me. You have to do what I say. Take one day at a time and be thankful for the simple joys in life. You can never go wrong when you take pleasure in the smile on a girl’s face.

This year is going to fly by, then another great summer, and then…boom!  I’ll be out there. I’ll live my life for Jesus and then I’ll be free!