On the first day of C-TOPs (the really cheesy name of UNC’s freshman orientation), I saw a guy with crazy long curly hair wearing a t-shirt that read, “Body Piercing Saved My Life.”

He probably wouldn’t have guessed that I owned the same shirt.

So my introverted self walked up to him and told him.

It was an odd introduction, for sure.  And I didn’t talk to him again until I began to see him at all of the same gatherings at the beginning of the semester.  I don’t know about anyone else’s college, but at Carolina you could eat free for the first week of school if you were checking out all of the various ministries on campus.  The Wesley Foundation didn’t care if you were Episcopalian, Jewish, or snake-handlin’ Baptist.  They just dished up some fried chicken and green beans in the name of outreach and opened their doors.  It was awesome.

Over the next four years this guy became a dear friend of mine and my husband.  He was one of eight crazy guys who lived in the same house with my husband during our senior year of college.  It was his idea to host the “Topnotch Turtleneck Party” at Christmastime that year.  And let me tell you that a bunch of guys in their 20s sporting Christmas turtlenecks that grandmothers wore in the 90s is quite an event. 

He wore a blue seersucker suit to our wedding.  And if anyone could have made it look natural, it was him.

He was Richard Simmons for Halloween one year.  I’m still traumatized by just how true an impression it was.

I think he’s actually had more hairstyles than me.

He’s a one-of-a-kind guy.  I’ve never known anyone like him.  And I doubt I ever will.  That’s why we all love him so much.   

And starting today a film he directed will be distributed at the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah. 

He and a few others entered the film in the YouTube Project: Direct competition to be voted on by all of the YouTube audience and a panel of judges from Sundance.  The winner of the contest would be flown out to the Sundance Film Festival to meet with the Sundance Director of Programming, see a screening of their film, and have it given out to industry execs at the festival.

Last week it was announced that their film “Perfecto!” won.   

This is so big.

It means that for the next ten days, our friend will be brushing shoulders with leading filmmakers and will have the opportunity to show them his work at the premier independent film festival in this country.  Who knows what kinds of doors could open as a result of it.

I can’t believe it. 

Then again, yes I can.

Parker and I are so stinkin’ proud of you, Blake.  For 8 1/2 years now, we’ve witnessed your unbelievable talent and waited to see when God would open a door for the rest of the world to take it in.  We are beyond blessed to call you our friend and brother.  And we felt that way long before any international film festival recognized your abilities.  Go paint Park City Carolina blue, brother.  Much love.