July 15, 1998 – Wednesday – 10:30 p.m.

Tomorrow is the birthday of two girls on my team: Angela and Sarah.  One will turn 15, the other 19.  Angela has an amazing heart in her and I see a fire in Sarah’s eyes that I never saw in my own Sarah.  And I’m jealous because she is so bright at just 15.

I’ve had some unique food so far, but it has all been pretty good.

Today was dedicated to rehearsal our street drama and we’ve got it down pretty well.

This morning during my quiet time, God showed me how important each of the people here are to him and how happy he makes him to see us sharing our life for this brief time.  Already I feel haunted by their eyes.  The girls here seem so pure.  I like how righteous they carry themselves and how they are saving themselves for their husbands.

And I am doing the same, though my two previous girlfriends so desperately wanted me to touch them.  But even that is too far, for a girl here said a guy should treat a girl like fine china, “no fingerprints.”

Hmmm.

Well, God protected me, and seeing all these pure eyes and pure spirits has given me so much hope that I will marry a woman who loves God as much as the girls around me do.

And I think they see the same in me.  One girl told me this morning that I was such an amazing guy.

Paul just entered.  He is 15, but in no way looks like it.  He is 6’3″ and from Maryland.

John is my other roommate.  He is 19 and from Arizona.

They are both here now.  Time to chat with them.

December 15, 1997 – Monday – 10:30 p.m.

Yesterday morning’s church service was awesome, then I sang at Juries that afternoon.  The RA Christmas party was that evening and after that we went to more juries.  Sarah was in four of them.  But despite all of yesterday’s business, Sarah and Jessi and I found the time to watch It’s Only a Paper Moon.

And last night, after the midnight breakfast exam break, and after I made my Christmas tree lights blink, and after Dan and I played Tetris 2, and after Vince and Alex wrestled in my room, I called my Sarah.  We talked for a while; we talked about us.

I told her that I pray to God about us and ask him what this is.  And every answer he ever gives me is through Sarah.  She said once that loving me was not part of the plan.  And I told her that God tells me to simply let our relationship be what it is and to not worry about anything else.

We both know I’m leaving and comfort is found in that.  I doubt I’ll spend the rest of my life with Sarah, but thanks to God, I’m pretty sure I’ll spend a lot of the next five months with her.

Perhaps I have lived life too carefully.  Perhaps I’ve guarded my heart too much.  Sarah is too amazing of a girl to simply pass up.  I do not want to be an old man, and right before I die, realize that I have not lived.

How frail we are.

So Sarah is my girl.  I love her.  I love her as much as my time will allow me.  We’ve only been close for three weeks, and, as we all know, love takes time.

Perhaps we should have left everything alone in that perfect first Eternal Instant on November 22nd, but why have one Eternal Instant when you can have hundreds.

I’m so young.

And Sarah is eighteen.

I just read back on my freshman year recently, and I didn’t know anything back then, but through Jeni and many others, I learned.

I first wrote Sarah’s name down in these Books of Days on June 14, 1997.  I had no idea then that I would repeat that name on these pages, in my heart, and on my lips for the rest of my life.  But it’s clear to me that she has arrived into my life and her influence will fade away.

March 23, 1997 – Sunday – 4:15 p.m.

Three years ago on this evening, I was sitting in Abundant Life Christian Center.  Jenna was sitting to the lift of me and I drew a picture of her foot in my Book of Days.  Jenna is now 17 and today I talked with her and her sister on the phone.

May 10, 1997.

October 1, 1997.

The first date is when Jenna will marry a young man named Herb.  The second date is when she will give birth to her first baby.

Jenna is now three months pregnant.

Jenna.

U & I.

The Female Bird.

Jenna.

The girl who always hugged me.  My sister and wonderful friend.  She had sex with a guy I’ve never even met, but I didn’t hear this from Jenna, no I heard it from Tenielle, who just recently got over pneumonia.  She said she cried for five days straight when she found out.

Well, there it is.

Oceans still move.

Waves still crash.

I tried to give advice and speak life to Tenielle, but she basically told me to shut up.  “You haven’t been here Jacob!  You don’t know!  You have no idea.”

And she was right.

I have been here and I know nothing of their life now.  To me, Jenna is still 14.  Tenielle is still 12.  And that ancient girl Veronica will never be anything other than 11.

On May 3, 1994 I wrote:  “My Book of Days will never cease.  I will write until the Lord comes back.  And when I read this stuff when I’m 80, I wonder what I will think.  Will I cry?  Will I know Jenna and Tenielle then?  Christi and Ryan were once important to me and I hardly know them now.  Why do I still mention their names?  Why does Veronica suddenly pop into my head sometimes whenever I’m driving down the road alone?  Is this going to happen the rest of my life?  Or will I forget?”

I don’t need to wait until I’m 80.  Here I am at 20, nearly in tears.

Jenna, no matter what happens, I will still love you and long to hug you.

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!

July 31, 1995 – Monday – 8:53 p.m.

July 1995 is almost over.

August is a few hours away.

August will be amazing.  Yesterday itself was amazing.  I went to church, went to the fellowship, went to High Falls, then wen to Aberdeen with Brad, Michael, and Kenny to eat.

The fellowship was very special.  Wayne’s dad John, the current youth pastor, wasn’t having the best day.  There is something about John, he knows, he sees.  Perhaps he is a red light like Emily and I.  We spent some time talking.  He told me his problem and what was on his mind.  And knowing this was my last Sunday, he gave me some very great words of wisdom.  Like he said last year before I left:

“I envy you.”

He went on to tell me how he wished he would have pushed himself so much harder through college.  He told me to do it now.

“Do it all now.”

Really, only two or three pages have been turned in my very huge Book of Days.

His story is currently in the middle.  And I get the sense he’s not content with his life.

As I was about to leave, Marcus and 13-year-old Chris were just playing around and trying to throw each other to the ground.  I said to John, “You see that boy, he is going to be my age one day and you’re going to mean a lot to him.  Right now, all he is concerned about is throwing people on the ground, but when he is my age, he will want to lift them up, and that’s going to be because of you.”

John looked at me deeply and said, “Hug me before I cry.”

He held my body so tight.  And every fiber of he being seemed to scream out “PLEASE!!”

Please what?  I thought.

But I knew.

“Please, do it all now.”  He obviously has regrets and he doesn’t want me to.

Two or three pages.

Is that all?

Are nine books really just two or three pages?

My adventure is just beginning.

July 2, 1995 – Sunday – 12:15 a.m.

July has begun.

I worked from 6:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.; ten hours.  Kevin and I went over to Jenna and Tenielle’s tonight (Saturday).  I talked to a friend of Jenna’s named Sam.  He is only 16, yet he is on probation and not in school because of his violent gang history in Los Angeles.  And now he is an important friend to my Jenna.  I like him.  He sounded okay.  He is straightening himself out.

I fell asleep over there.  Nevertheless, I had a great time.

And now… I shall get more sleep.

May 10, 1995 – Wednesday – 11:55 p.m.

I am home, if this place can be called home.

I am in my room, if this room can be called mine.

Jonathan is here.

We had a wonderful time this evening simply talking, laughing, and playing water-guns in the dark.

And so my summer has begun.

Tomorrow I plan on getting a haircut and visiting my old high school.  I will more than likely begin work on Monday.

Mom and I had a wonderful time on the way back home.  I told her about college.  She actually listened.

Perhaps this place is my home.

Perhaps it always has been.

Perhaps it always will be.

My Freshman year is over.

My collection has doubled.

I am smiling.

March 28, 1995 – Tuesday – 11:48 p.m.

Sunday night, March 26, 1995 was the greatest night of my life thus far.  I am sure of it.

I called Emily around 3:00 p.m.  It was 2:00 p.m. in Crestview.  That was the first time I had heard her voice in nearly 18 months.  She sounded beautiful.  We talked for 30 minutes because she had to be at church at 2:30 p.m.  I gave her my number and she called me back at 11:00 p.m. that night.

I thought she was 20 years old, but she is 16.  She was 14 when I met her.  She never told me her age, I just figured she was 18.  It surprised me, but it didn’t bother me.

Only her and I will know how special that conversation was.  We talked about each other.

She loves me.  She loves me for who I am.  She doesn’t know what I look like now.  She sees me as me, as special, as an eagle.

I saw her for who she really is Sunday night.  I held her Sunday night.

She is the most beautiful girl I have ever seen, yet I don’t know what she looks like now either.  All I see is her spirit.

We talked for an hour and a half.  I told her I loved her.  She told me she loved me.

I wish I could tell you more about it, but you will be hearing more about Emily.

I point you to Hebrews 13:2, “Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it.”

This is Emily.  Except she is not a stranger.  I have never felt so close to a person before.  Our bodies are hundreds of miles away.  But our spirits hold each other every night.

Goodnight my Angel.

October 30, 1994 – Sunday – 3:05 p.m.

Jeni has gone.  She won’t be back until Thursday.  I miss her already.  She wasn’t able to go to church with me this morning; she had rehearsal.

Last night she and I talked to Charlie for a long time.  There is this girl that Charlie has been interested in.  He finally asked her out last night and he was telling us how it went.  He was nervous.

I went for a walk this afternoon and ended up in a place I had never been before.  It was really pretty.  I really don’t know what I’m going to do since Jeni is gone.  If she was here, I’d be over at her room right now.  I’ll survive though, this will show me how important she is to me.

I called my mom this morning since I needed some money.  I also talked to my dad the night before last.

Last night, we threw Tracey a surprise birthday party and we played a few games.  About 20 people were there.  Everyone had a lot of fun.  Tracey will be 19 tomorrow.  Her birthday is on Halloween!

Speaking of Halloween, November is almost here!  I have been here at Lees-McRae College for two months now, and I have not yet returned home.  When I do finally go home it will be 2 1/2 months since I’ve been there.  That is a long time.  And I am a different person now from who I was on the day I left.

I have met so many new people since that day.  And I have fallen in love with one of them.

August 26, 1994 – Friday – 11:55 p.m.

The summer of 1994 is coming to a close.

So much happened, more than any other summer I’ve experienced.  From discovering how perverted my dad is and throwing all his porn away to doing phone pranks with Jenna and Tenielle; from hiking the Shenandoah river to tubing down Indian Creek Falls; from watching the night time ocean with Jonathan to puking my guts out during Forrest Gump…and so many little moments to: Ryan’s green eyes, reconnecting with Christi, and the countless hours of perfection when it was just Jenna and Tenielle and I hanging out on their trampoline.

But a storm is coming.  I’m sitting here on my branch and I can see it.

I try to hold on, but only one more day remains.

I called Kristen yesterday to say goodbye.  She is so sweet.  I’m glad I met her.  She was my “new-found Fishnet friend.”  That’s what she called me.  

I finally got a hold of Jonathan.  He is great.  He says his roommate is just like him.

Tonight was my last night at work.  I have enjoyed my job at McDonald’s.  It was really fun.  Thank you Lord for letting me work there.  I kept that job for 15 months.

Cheryl and Ryan and I had planned to do something tomorrow, but the two of them had plans to leave for the beach with a lot of other friends. So, I just went over there after work tonight.  A girl named Adrian came over.  She is sweet and fun to be around.  We all went to Ryan’s house and then to the football game at Lee Senior.  I had the gas card with me so I bought both Ryan and Adrian $5 of gas.  Adrian couldn’t believe I bought her gas since I didn’t know her.

While we were at Ryan’s house, Amy gave me a letter saying goodbye.  I hugged her and her mom.

I had fun at the game.  I saw Christi, Hank, and Jason and talked to them.  They found a bunch of friends and then we all headed out together.  When we got to my car, I gave Ryan, Cheryl, and Adrian a hug and said goodbye.  Cheryl said Adrian is a really great and outgoing person and that she suggested to Ryan and that she could drive her and Cheryl up to the mountains to visit me sometime.  That would be awesome!

I went to see Veronica and her family afterwards and spent about an hour with them.  Veronica couldn’t believe my haircut.  Both her and Sherry were on their way to bed, so I gave them both a hug.  I talked with Shirley and Scott for a while.  I told them I would come by tomorrow and see them one last time before I left.

I have one more day to sit on this branch and sing.

One more day until the storm will blow me away.

One more day to find me here.

One day more.