Live Through This

Sneaking Out

We lied, stole cars, hid boys all over the house, and even broke limbs for a taste of freedom.

Illustration by Monica

Illustration by Monica.

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

Jessica

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.

Suzy

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.

Emily

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.

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47 Comments

  • Marjainez August 27th, 2013 3:15 PM

    Monica – this illo is just AWESOME.
    xxxxxx

    • Lola August 27th, 2013 3:29 PM

      x 2! monica, it’s absolutely gorgeous.

    • Rose August 27th, 2013 4:01 PM

      thirded! it’s gorgeous!

  • Sophie ❤ August 27th, 2013 3:18 PM

    Really awesome. Love the topic!

    http://theneonpapaya.com

  • rottedteeth August 27th, 2013 3:29 PM

    Aw gabbys story is too cute.

    http://empassant.blogspot.com/

  • dreamygirl August 27th, 2013 3:31 PM

    so much yolo-ing. I loved this though ughhh

  • kendallpanda August 27th, 2013 3:58 PM

    Looove this. makes me wanna sneak out ;)

  • Anouk August 27th, 2013 4:04 PM

    Amazing topic and great stories!
    This makes me want to sneak out tonight, hahah

  • NovaIrie August 27th, 2013 4:05 PM

    It’s sad how startled I was to see my name being used by someone else. For some reason it’s never seemed possible for someone to have the same name as me and when I read that the names were fake I was relieved.

    • reginageorge September 2nd, 2013 3:58 PM

      YOU MIGHT NOT WANT TO READ THIS IF IT FREAKS YOU OUT TO SHARE YOUR NAME WITH SOMEONE ELSE.

      I think Nova is a staff member so I assume her name hasn’t been changed, just the names of the friends and boyfriends mentioned in the stories.

      • Anaheed September 2nd, 2013 4:03 PM

        Ms. George is correct.

  • Kenz August 27th, 2013 4:15 PM

    Man, this makes me wish I could sneak out. I live on a farm miles from ANYWHERE.

  • SouthWind August 27th, 2013 4:25 PM

    Maybe this is an American thing… I live in Ireland and I don’t know anyone who sneaks out. I mean… Where would you go?

    • anna-daly August 27th, 2013 8:21 PM

      I went to parties so I could stay past curfew and drink. It was mostly spent with my boyfriend doing sexy things. We mostly went to an empty apartment we found in his building!

  • thebrownette August 27th, 2013 4:40 PM

    I FEEL YA, GabbyZ!

  • Erin. August 27th, 2013 4:51 PM

    I guess I’m totally different from most people. At age 16 I could have left the house at midnight saying I was going to a friend’s party and sleeping over and that would have be fine. But I hated/hate parties, so I guess this was never a concern for my parents.

    • Johann7 September 10th, 2013 5:23 PM

      I’m in your boat – my parents didn’t think sex was evil or whatever other beliefs motivate things like curfews, rules against staying at other people’s houses, or any other restrictions that might merit sneaking around. I spent about half the nights the summer I was sixteen sleeping at my girlfriend’s house (her parents were cool too) 30 miles away. I simply can’t relate to the sneaking out concept.

      • Johann7 September 10th, 2013 5:36 PM

        Oh, I *did* sneak out plenty when our high school theater troupe went to Edinburgh for the Festival Fringe for two weeks. We were staying in sex-segregated dorms with *very strict* curfew rules, and also first-floor windows that opened. The security staff just stayed at the front desk, so I didn’t have to try very hard, but it was kind of surreal “sneaking” around in brightly-lit hallways. Hopping the wall around the dorm complex was fun, as was climbing up to the nearby hill to stargaze or seeing a few late-night plays in the city.

  • Holly August 27th, 2013 5:54 PM

    I’m confused, are the writer’s names changed, or just the friends in the stories? Anyway I loved this article, especially Gabby’s story. lol sounds like me.

    • Danielle August 27th, 2013 5:56 PM

      The names of the friends in the stories are changed. :)

  • AngstyTheBrave August 27th, 2013 6:10 PM

    This sort of makes me want to sneak out but I have no reason to and no way to and nothing to do. I used to skip school all the time, but that never really required sneaking out because either I just wouldn’t show up, or I would basically just walk out. Except once near the end of grade nine, the last year of junior high. I was hungry, I hated my school and I was tired of my friends. I did sort of have to sneak, because the teachers were much stricter and the school much smaller. But in the end basically all I did was walk out the back. I went to Whyte Ave, this really cool street in my city near downtown, with thrift shops and music stores and cafes and yeah.

    tripleal.tumblr.com
    radstuffhere.wordpress.com

    • ohayisabella October 9th, 2013 10:16 PM

      i live in edmonton, loved sneaking out to hang around whyte ave.

  • kathryn-s August 27th, 2013 6:39 PM

    I don’t understand how you can skip school or cut class without lying to the nurse saying you’re sick or something. Don’t teachers report you absent?? I don’t understand how people just leave without getting caught. Is my school just super strict?

    • anna-daly August 27th, 2013 8:07 PM

      My school would call and so I’d bring a note from my “mom” saying I had a doctors appt. since I still cared enough to worry, then, you know. Leave. I’d be marked absent but my parents wouldn’t be alerted unless they decides to look up my inexcused absences for some reason.

    • llamalina August 29th, 2013 12:23 AM

      I can never cut class on a normal day because the school calls my dad. The key is taking advantage of weird schedule days like assemblies or AP testing days, if your school has them. While everyone’s going to the assembly, book it. That way, if the school calls your parents you can just tell them you were at an assembly and it’s totally legit and stuff. Yay for delinquency!!

    • Johann7 September 10th, 2013 5:28 PM

      Mine would mark me absent. I’d shrug. I was threatened with a truancy ticket and expulsion at one point by our principle, and in response, I pointed out that denying someone the ability to attend school as a way to try to motivate them to do so more made zero sense. I didn’t skip more than a couple classes a week and got good grades (discounting attendance), which probably helped. They never gave me a ticket or expelled me.

  • AnaRuiz August 27th, 2013 6:51 PM

    Favorite Rookie post EVAHHHH!!!

    http://anaruizwriting.blogspot.com

  • monkshood August 27th, 2013 7:05 PM

    Aww, I love Gabby’s story! I used to pack my backpack with Barbies, candy, and scarves or a blanket, and gently close the front door, but the end of the block was about the farthest I ever went from my house, as I would immediately go running back. Great article!

  • KatGirl August 27th, 2013 7:41 PM

    Me too…. I thought I would be able to walk to my grandparent’s house (who live on the coast, many miles away from me on the prairies)!

  • Catelyn August 28th, 2013 12:14 AM

    @Julianne, good ol’ Foco! #reppin’

  • llamalina August 28th, 2013 1:10 AM

    I have only ever snuck out once, and it was one of the best nights of my life. This article just convinced me to do it WAY more often. You Rookie staff are bad influences.

  • ohclemence August 28th, 2013 1:25 AM

    This post was awesome!!
    I could never sneak out when I was younger because my house was – as described by my friends – like a prison. My parents would come and check on my during the night every few hours and everything was locked up and basically impenetrable. Meanwhile, all of my friends were sneaking out and having the time of their adolescent lives.

  • MaddyGrace August 28th, 2013 6:05 AM

    This story makes me nostalgic for my childhood. I never snuck out, I think because I stayed up late at night reading true crime stories about serial killers and about children who vanished, never to be seen again. So sneaking out at night was never appealing in that regard as I was hyper aware or scared of the ‘predatory stranger’. But one time as a child, my best friend and I made a pact to meet each other in the park at midnight. Neither of us actually snuck out but because we had made that pact it remains part of my childhood narrative and it feels like it happened even though it didn’t.

    http://www.maddygraces.blogspot.com

  • nizmocat August 28th, 2013 6:11 AM

    ughhh omg i want to sneak out so bad now!!! it makes me sad reading about you guys being all rebellious and teenagery and me just.. not. all these adventures sound magical! i don’t really know what i would do if i snuck though. i can’t drive or anything. hmm.

    http://myperpetualperplexities.blogspot.co.nz/

  • flocha August 28th, 2013 6:47 AM

    I have never snuck out at home, because I live in the middle of nowhere, and the only thing near me is a cow farm. But last time I was on holiday with my friend we decided at midnight to take a walk to the abandoned holiday park nearby, and then we somehow ended up walking miles to the beach. All the while holding a wine bottle and glasses.

    http://www.whimsicalprocrastination.blogspot.co.uk

  • francesha August 28th, 2013 6:50 AM

    When I was 14/15, I dated a boy who was 18/19. (Looking back at it now it seems a little weird but I know that nothing untoward was going on- we just got on well, and he never made me do anything I didn’t want to) It was the first boy I ever went out with and I was nervous about my parents finding out, even though they are pretty liberal, and he obviously wanted to keep it quiet because well, it might have looking a little wrong to other people. I never truly snuck out at night and I never stayed overnight, but I did used to go “shopping” after school and on weekends which was really just going over to his house to play video games and make out. But I’ve never been one for lying and I spent a lot of time crying because I felt so guilty, in case something bad happened, and I felt especially bad if either of my parents ever said how much they trusted me. Eventually, when we broke up, I left his house sobbing one evening, as it started to get dark. He was going out somewhere and drove away whilst I waited for the bus. But the bus never came, and my phone died. I walked from his house to the main bus station in tears – it probably only took something like half an hour but it felt like forever – when I found a phone box I called my dad and told him that the buses had stopped running and I needed him to pick me up. He asked me if something was wrong and I said I was fine and tried to sort myself out. In the car I changed the conversation. He never asked me more about it but I’m sure he knew something was wrong. But I guess I got away with it.

    • VagabondZombie August 29th, 2013 2:26 AM

      Sigh, yeah. I had my first boyfriend when I was 13 and the guy was 18. It did look wrong for most people and almost everyone, even my best friends, looked at us the wrong way. We never worked out, though. The pressure on our shoulders was just way too much to handle.

  • Ladymia69 August 28th, 2013 11:13 AM

    Oh, yes,I was a defiant sneak-out specialist, baby. How else could you have a life if you were constantly forbidden to go out (due to “getting in trouble”…pshaw!)?

  • Lemons August 28th, 2013 5:02 PM

    This is amazing. I used to sneak out in boarding school all the time. One year in particular I became some kind of ninja expert and went to great lengths to dodge the houseparents who were supposed to be in charge. After I had slid down the wall, pushed the window to look closed, rolled across the driveway, hopped three garden fences, changed my walk to look like a man and made my way through dimly lit streets to my crush’s apartment…I felt overwhelmed with exhilaration. I miss that feeling.. now that I think about it.. having rules made life so exciting!

    http://visualcoffee.blogspot.com/

  • Harriet August 28th, 2013 5:47 PM

    Hehe, my friends and I never snuck out when we were younger but just recently we decided we had to do it before our teenage days were over, rebellion and all that. We had to be really sneaky though because if our parents found out they wouldn’t be remotely bothered and that would ruin the fun of it. It was the most exhilarating thing I’ve done in a while. We drove around the countryside and danced to Kate Bush in front of the headlights.

  • VagabondZombie August 29th, 2013 2:21 AM

    Jessica, your story is the one that I could relate to the most and ugh, I know how you feel. My parents are strict at random times as well and they shit their pants over the tiniest issues ever.

    I have a boyfriend and my parents don’t have an idea. I’d tell my parents that I have after-school activities and we’d go to his house or some place else. Whenever we’d try to hang out, I’d lie to my parents that I’m just going to the mall with some girl friends. Then we’d hang out at random staircases and make out. But other times, we’d go take walks in the park or sit in a cafe. I live in a small city so I’m always paranoid on who might see me.

    http://vagabondzombie.blogspot.ae/

  • bubblegumangel August 30th, 2013 6:54 PM

    I just moved out of my house last Friday to go to college four hours away. My very last week at home I got involved with this guy and we both agreed we would just have fun, no commitment since I was moving. I have ALWAYS been a super goody goody and never do anything remotely bad but since it was my last chance to be a wild teenager, as I’m 18 and now out of the house, I snuck out every single night to see him, makeout, and get frisky but never TOO frisky, if you catch my drift. It was so much fun and I’m sad I waited until my last week in town to sneak out because now I’m a “grown up” and don’t have to sneak out anymore.

  • Pia August 30th, 2013 7:17 PM

    Ugh I was the worst at 14. I would sleep over at my bad-girl friends house and we would plaster our faces with stolen make-up, wear crop tops and take cabs all over LA (which we often ditched!), to hookah lounges, rich boy’s mansions or to huge parties. We would hitchhike rides from UCLA frat boys and smoke cigarettes while reveling in our newfound control over the male population. We would make it home by morning somehow in one piece and I would get picked up while my friend had to go to soccer practice.

  • eremiomania August 31st, 2013 3:44 AM

    Wow I know a ton of ways to sneak out of my house but I have no idea what I would do, who I would do it with, or how to get there? Plus I’m terrified of being kidnapped/raped/murdered even in my own home with the doors locked so I don’t think I could ever go sneak out at night without being with someone or having a weapon.

  • cornly_ August 31st, 2013 9:35 AM

    This is one of THE MOST accurate articles I have ever read here on Rookie.

    One time, at a concert, my cousin broke her foot because we jumped over a 7 foot tall barricade just to get a wee bit closer to the band. It was scary (mostly the part where we have to tell it to our gran), but also exciting but mostly scary. And terrifying. We still didn’t get THAT close to the band. But it was OK. It was fun. Thank you again, Rookie. Keep on Rook-ing. (? That was lame oh my god. It was supposed to be keep on Rocking but whatever nevermind)