From eighth grade until I moved out of my mom’s house at the age of 18, I snuck out CONSTANTLY. One time, my aunt Josie and her boyfriend, Bob, were visiting from Oakland and they heard me taking the screen off the basement window to climb out at midnight. I was 14, and they had a brief conversation about whether they should tell my mom. They decided against it because, as Josie tells me now, “Where were you going to go? The 7-Eleven?” She was totally right—in those days, sneaking out rarely meant going past my front yard, where I’d meet my neighbor and our kind of dumb boyfriends to listen to the Ramones at low volumes on a tiny tape player and uneventfully make out. It’s not like there were any clubs to sneak into in Cheyenne, Wyoming, where I grew up—I was just testing the waters of my independence, feeling exhilarated by the thrill of freedom in the late summer nights.
Sneaking out of the house is terrifying in the best way possible. You know that what you’re doing could definitely get you in trouble, so there’s a JOLT OF EXCITEMENT about getting away with it. For many of us, sneaking out at night is our first declaration of independence from our parents. It’s the first thing we do on our own, in stark contrast to our days, spent tethered to rules decided upon us by our guardians and teachers. Sneaking out is entirely our decision, made completely sans input from adults, whose constant hovering reminds us that we’re not entirely in control of our own lives. What we do after we get out of the house doesn’t necessarily matter; it’s the act of escaping that sticks with us.
As I got older, I got bolder. By the time high school rolled around, I was driving three hours away to Casper, Wyoming, to see my boyfriend, Manny.* Luckily, my best friend, Lita, was dating his best friend, so she and often drove there together. We always had the most fun, but I get terrified when I think back on how much danger we put ourselves in! For two full years I drove through blizzards and on highways slick with black ice, with only about a year of driving experience, gripping the steering wheel and blasting music just to drown out my fear of spinning off the highway. I was fueled by a very intense combination of anticipation for the boy, not knowing if I would make it to see him, imagining what my parents would do if I died, and focusing on the road while Lita shuffled through tapes and kept the music going. When I broke up with Manny and started sneaking out to shows and clubs in Laramie, Wyoming, and Fort Collins, Colorado, I was still faced with hours of mountainous snow driving. I never wrecked once, but I still can’t believe my bravery and stupidity.
Eventually, I got caught. I missed Sunday school once, a big-time no-no in my family, because I was still driving back from a Casper sneak-out, and my mom grounded me for a month. I was derailed for a little while, but it didn’t stop me from sneaking out again and again and again.
Rookie staffers are consummate pros at sneaking out and all that it entails, so I asked a few to tell me about their sordid pasts and thrilling escapes. —Julianne
I rarely ever snuck out, so my main crime circa 10th to 12th grade was sneaking back in past curfew. My parents were sporadically, randomly strict and always thought I was getting into shit (like smoking and boys) when I wasn’t. One summer, unbeknownst to them, I had been hanging out with a guy and coming home late with some regularity. One Saturday morning my stepdad came in from outside was like, “I know you have been running around at night, I have proof!” I was quietly freaked because OMG what did he know? And what proof? And He whipped out these ’80s-style black lace “sexy” underwear that were just totally messed-up-looking; he had found them in our yard when he ran them over with the lawn mower! I guess he assumed I had been creeping home one night, panties in hand, and dropped them on my way in. Because how else would these busted-looking high-cut briefs have gotten in our side yard? But they weren’t even mine! The mortification of seeing him standing there holding up those chewed-up unders still makes me cringe.
When we weren’t doing community service, my Girl Scout troop was the rebel troop. The summer I was 15, we had sleepovers at my friend Maggie’s house, which was down the road from my best friend Nate. Our trick was to rent movies and leave them playing in her room with the door locked so we could sneak out. We snuck out a couple of times to meet up with my boyfriend and his friends at Nate’s, where we would drink and watch Donnie Darko. I also snuck out of Girl Scout camp a couple times with my troop. Across the lake was another camp, whose counselors liked to splash the Girl Scouts with their jet skis. My crew met at the horse stables, put on hoodies, and walked to the rival camp, where I climbed up on their sign and peed on it. The second time we snuck over there was much more friendly: I was a counselor, and during our staff break one afternoon, some of the other counselors and I took some Girl Scout cookies and made our way across the lake to find that the enemy camp was having a dance. They welcomed us with open arms! We danced with boys and shouted along to DJ Sammy’s “Heaven” and Nelly Furtado’s “Promiscuous Girl.” By the time we made it back to our own camp, dinner was over and all the other girls were waiting for us in the dining hall, scowling because they knew where we’d been.
I cut an opening in the screen of my bedroom window and told my parents that it was because I had locked myself out of the house. In truth, I would lock my bedroom door at night, sneak out around 1 AM, and spend my nights driving around aimlessly with friends. I’d go to shows in nearby towns, make out with dudes in graveyards (seriously), or go to all-night diners. I’d usually sneak back in around 5 AM. I did this at least once a week for about four years.