Last night I had “Leave a Light On” by Belinda Carlisle stuck in my head, and it kept rattling around in my brain while I lay there, trying to sleep.
That song reminds me of a video I saw when I was twelve. I had to endure the unique brand of religious torture that public school children of Catholic parents are subjected to: CCD class. Mine was a class of 10 middle school kids fervently trying to make sure that everyone knew how little we cared about religion, how cool and above it all we were.
We watched a lot of lame videos, but for some reason the ending of this one stuck with me. It was a classically cheesy story in the vein of after school specials: a boy who seemed much older than me at the time—meaning he was probably 17—gets into a fight with his parents and decides to leave home. I remember that he left with just a backpack, and I thought, “That’s not nearly big enough to fit all my stuff.”
At some point he decides that he misses his family and would like to return home. I think there might have been a priest involved, some kind of counseling. The boy calls his parents and ends up leaving a message on their answering machine (the kind with a tape—I miss those).
The gist of his message was this: “I want to come home. I’m going to walk by the house tonight. If you want me to come home, leave the lamp in the living room window on. If it’s not on, I know to keep walking.” Cheesy, right?
So, there he is on the top of his street, backpack slung over his shoulder. It’s dusk, and most houses on the block are dark. Except his—his house is lit up like Christmas, light blazing from every window. He walks to it and stands outside, drinking it in.
And I, straining to remain cool and detached, was horrified to find myself crying.
I still get a little misty-eyed when I think about the story. All those lights! They really wanted him home!
Wonder if it’s on YouTube…