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You should turn yourself around and come on home.

Issue Date: Thursday, Nov. 03, 2005

I heard Matchbox Twenty’s song Bright Lights this morning on my way to work. For those of you who have never heard the song or do not know the lyrics… please allow me to direct you to their website to hear the song for yourself… click on this link choose the album More Than You Think You Are – 2nd from the right – and click on the 3rd song from the top.

If you know of the song and just are not all that familiar with the lyrics… I submit:

Bright Lights
Written by Rob Thomas
© 2002 Bidnis, Inc./EMI Blackwood Music (BMI)

She got out of town on the railway, New York bound
Took all except my name
Another alien on Broadway
Well, some things in this world you just can't change
Some things you can't see until it gets too late

[Chorus]

Baby, baby, baby when all your love is gone
Who will save me from all I'm up against out in this world?
And maybe, maybe, maybe
You'll find something that's enough to keep you
But if the bright lights don't receive you
You should turn yourself around and come on home

I got a hole in me now
I got a scar I can talk about
She keeps a picture of me in her apartment in the city
But some things in this world
Man, they don't make sense
Some things you don't leave until they leave you
And then the things that you miss, you say

[Chorus]

Baby, baby, baby when all your love is gone
Who will save me from all I'm up against out in this world?
And maybe, maybe, maybe
You'll find something that's enough to keep you
But if the bright lights don't receive you
You should turn yourself around and come on home

Let that city take you in (come on home)
Let that city spit you out (come on home)
Let that city take you down, yeah
For god sakes turn around

[Chorus]

Baby, baby, baby when all your love is gone
Who will save me from all I'm up against out in this world?
Yeah well, maybe, maybe, maybe
You'll find something that's enough to keep you
But if the bright lights don’t receive you
Well, turn yourself around and come on home

Yeah, come on home
Baby, baby, baby, baby
Come on home
Yeah, come on home
Yeah, come on home
Yeah, come on home
Baby, baby, baby, baby
Come on home

This song a) kills me softly b) kills me with a large cleaver and hides the body c) stirs up waaaaaaaaaaaay too much shit d) opens up a closet with a load of skeletal memories or e) all of the above.

I’m going to go with E, Regis.

Smart choice Pearl.

For some reason this song made me think about my childhood friend Carter. Or really, my teenage friend Carter. I know I have told you guys a little bit about Carter in a previous post. Not much mind you, just that he could water ski barefoot and that he was Greek god hot. Those two things really don’t round him out.

Let me start at the beginning.

Oh Lord, here she goes, I can tell this is going to be a wordy one.
Shut it.

I met Carter when I was in the 6th grade… at church. While sitting in a tiny little chair that was clearly made for a four year old, my long legs and floral Laura Ashley dress clearly did not bode well for a, “lookit me, aren’t I pretty?” type of vibe. The church that we were visiting was growing so rapidly that they had taken over the KiderCare (or whatever) building next door and that is where the youth group held their Sunday School.

Carter was hanging out with several guys and laughing after Sunday School on the way across the muddy concrete placer settings that served as our walkway back to the main building. I was walking behind them when Carter turned, asked me a question and just like that, with the combined laughter of 6th graders ringing off of the brick walls of the sanctuary… I was one of them. I was included in their group.

The main core was Eric (preacher’s son), Brian (my neighbor from two houses down we dubbed one another ‘brother’ and ‘sister’ as time went on), Ryan (lived in my neighborhood), Carter, Mike K. and Michael B. (serious boyfriend (first open mouth kiss and “went out” with him for 10 months) in the 7th grade, stolen from me by Kris C.). These guys did almost everything together. The girls from the youth group would flit in and out depending on their mood and if they liked a certain boy, but the rest of us were constant. We all went to the same middle school, except for Carter, so I got to see them all almost everyday.

Click to enlarge all pictures.

H20 Tic Tac Toe anyone?
Standard view from my mother’s natural perspective. Through the lens of a camera. From Left to Right: Scott (Fitgerald… F. Scott Fitzgerald?... I never asked), Ryan (the sweet one who wrote me poetry in the 8th grade), Carter, Eric, Me and my ‘brother’… Brian.

Our church did a snow skiing trip over Spring Break every year so we would all ride in the big buses to Colorado and hang out for 3 or 4 days on the slopes. Carter was known for his incredible athletic ability. He would own those double black diamond slopes by the first morning that we took the lifts up the mountain.

He was a master on the skateboard and roller skates too. Fearless and a bit reckless, he was always one to awe with his stunts; no matter what medium; or to make you suck in your breath when you thought he was in danger. He always pulled it out at the last millisecond and executed a perfect landing or just went about his motions like it was the most natural thing in the world to lasso a lightening bolt and tame it.

Carter transferred schools in the 10th grade to be with Eric, Brian, Ryan, John B. (new to the group from 8th grade) and I at Clark High School (Mike and Michael went to another school – then they both ended up moving away before 11th and 12th grade). We welcomed Carter’s quick wit and easy way with meeting new people. By the end of his first week I can remember standing at my locker (he shared mine – he felt his was too far away from us – us being the guys I mentioned above, Stephanie and myself) and having no less than five girls all vying for his attention. He just never seemed that interested, and his dismissal just fueled the fires that these girls had in their britches for the new guy.

He was a loner by choice and I can remember many times coming out to my car from school or after a football game to find him laying across the front seats with his feet hanging out the passenger window of my little 1980 Ford Mustang. He wouldn’t give an explanation to whoever asked what he was doing or where he was going. He would just direct your attention to the neat patterns the smoke from his Camel Lights cigarette and say, “Look at the patterns the smoke creates on the glass when you hold the cherry really close to the windshield.”

I remember going to a dance club when we were 16. It was called Monopoly’s and one night a week during the summer (Mondays? Tuesdays? Thursdays? Does anyone remember?) the club would open its’ doors to the teens. John B. would drive us in his mother’s van and the girls would get ready in the back. Normally I left the house in shorts and a tank or a skirt or something equally as bland. But one night in particular I had asked Carter to bring his black Z Cavaricci’s so that I could borrow them. I had on black flats, a black skirt, and a colored tank top with a rib high white tank (from Contempo …. Heh) underneath. When we walked into Monopoly’s I was wearing Carter’s black Z’s, black shoes and my white tiny tank. I felt so daring.

That same night when John dropped Stephanie, Ginger and I off at my house; the girls were going to spend the night; Carter said he would call his dad from my house to come get him. John went to drive away and when he got about 20 feet away, Carter ran and jumped on the van verrrrrry softly as not to alert John to his presence. He climbed up the back ladder and was sitting on the roof waving to us as they turned the corner. John would later tell us that he almost wrecked when he pulled up to a stop sign and Carter leaned down and knocked on his driver side window like some sort of monkey. John let him in and then took him home.

Those kinds of stunts were not few and far between.

He played the drums and would substitute for the drummer in the church band. He looked like Animal from the Muppet Show when he would get going.

When 10th grade was over and we were going to go to Plano Senior High School for 11th and 12th grades Carter sort of disappeared. He was still at church on Sundays, but he started to grow his hair out even longer than it was before.

Our junior year when the skiing trip rolled around we were all excited to go. We loaded up and headed towards Winter Park. Carter had been doing some research and he wanted to ski on the back bowl of the mountain so he could try out some flips and jumps. He wanted to perfect his helicopter move and he had all of the guys worked up about what he wanted to do. We sat at the back of the bus and listened to And Justice For All by Metallica on his portable tape player. And he detailed out the shredding that was going to take place on the back of Mary Jane (the mountain).

Carter took that mountain to task. On the third day of skiing he was over doing jumps in the back bowl (looks like a bear paw). He would side walk to the top and then build up speed and take a jump. He did a flip and landed on his neck. It didn’t phase him. He got up, shook it off and then went back for more. He did the flip and landed it perfectly. On his third attempt he built up an incredible amount of speed, nailed the flip and landed perfectly again. When he went to stop he was going to fast and his uphill ski twirled on him and snapped the ACL in his knee.

I was on the other side of the mountain tree-skiing with Stephanie. I had no clue that anything was wrong until Brian told me that they flew Carter home. The youth group was going to drive home in the busses the next day or the day after, but the leaders felt that Carter needed to get home and be cared for by a doctor his family was familiar with.

A few days later, Carter went into the hospital for surgery. I got home from school and my mother handed me the phone and the number of Plano Medical Hospital. She said that Jan (Carter’s mother) had called and said that Carter was asking for me. Apparently when he was coming out of the anesthesia he started calling for me. I called to let Jan know I was on my way then hauled ass to the hospital. I sat with him until he was coherent. He seemed embarrassed to see me. After all, with the change of schools and him sort of dropping from the radar, I hadn’t seen him outside of a church function in almost a year.

It broke my heart to see him laying there. Tubes coming out of him and his face ashen. He was always tan with golden hair.

Carter a bit more grown up.
Carter in my pool…1988 or something.

Carter was the middle son of three boys, he normally stood out as the man of the house because his older bother was mildly retarded and his father acted like a child. To wit: his father started messing around with a married woman at church. Carter became very angry, angry with his mother, his father, the church family. He drew away even more from his friends who loved him.

The last time I really saw him was the Sunday of our graduation ceremony at church. He was not graduating with us. His mother was convinced that he had a learning disability, I was convinced that he was just not all that into school or doing what he was told by his elders, teachers or anyone.

He moved back in with his mother several years ago and she worries because he stays out all night, sleeps all day and can not hold down a job. Or… won’t. He really doesn’t have to. After his father and mother got a divorce, both he and his younger brother routinely took (and still take) monetary advantage of their mother and her sweet and somewhat enabling nature. She was the breadwinner of the marriage before the divorce… I wonder where the boys learned that kind of predatory behavior?? His dad maybe?... Could it be?

Over the past decade or so, I haven’t seen Carter even once. We routinely have functions at his mother’s house as she is in the group of Empty Nester’s with my parents. Most recently Jan held a wedding shower for Brian and his beautiful new bride. While we were there Carter stayed hidden in his bedroom.

He never greets his mother’s company.

It has been reported that he has physically pushed her more than once.

Not that I don’t want to kick his ass every time I hear another “Carter Story” from my parents. But, I miss my friend and what he used to be. Sweet, caring, funny and respectful to his parents. If he ever finds himself again, I would love to meet the man he has become.

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To understand this dear reward (above) at all, you must hie thee on and read gatsby’s grape ape entry and my comments.

And because of said comments he sent me my very own dream turtle in an email titled wee gift with these words attached, “my purple monkey is booked solid so i ordered you a tangerine turtle. hope he proves helpful.”

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