I was a delinquent, straight up, and my favorite crime was NOCTURNAL GRAND THEFT MINIVAN. When I was a high school senior, I would use AIM to contact my friend John to go on an adventure with me, and he would begrudgingly agree because all our other friends had gone off to college. I’d pick him up in my parent’s red Dodge Caravan and we’d see how far north we could drive and still make it home in time for school the next morning, stopping at whatever we deemed the creepiest spot along the way. We once made it 100 miles up to this abandoned mental hospital and had to book it home to get back in time. After dropping John off, I saw that the gas gauge was on empty and realized there wasn’t enough time for me to refill the tank before my mom woke up. I assumed my fate was sealed. But when we got in the car to drive to school a few hours later, my mom turned the key, squinted at the empty-tank light, and muttered, “These vans are so bad on gas.”
Most of the time I wasn’t that lucky, and I got grounded for sneaking out. My parents eventually started logging the number on the odometer before they went to bed every night, and sleeping with the car keys under their pillows.
When I was 15, my boyfriend lived in a house about 15 miles away. We went to different high schools and would talk on the phone all night, every night. Very late one evening on a school night, he asked, “If I drove to your house, would you sneak me in?” My parents and I lived on a farm, and the window to my room was right by the roof of the garage, which had a totally climbable TV antennae tower attached to it. I thought about his offer for maybe two seconds, then I was like, “Great idea!” He hung up, snuck out of his house, and drove all the way over. He approached our driveway with his headlights off to avoid detection, and then coasted up to the house with the car engine off so he wouldn’t make any noise. I was watching all of this from my bedroom window. Then I watched him creep through the yard to the side of our house. I was really getting a kick out of this whole plan, but when I saw my boyfriend’s hand reaching for one of the top rungs of the TV tower, I panicked: HOLY CRAP, WHEN HE GETS IN HERE HE’S GOING TO WANT TO GET IN MY BED AND MAYBE HAVE SEX! That was something I was not ready for at ALL, and it was all I could think of as he started to climb onto our roof. It wasn’t really the time for a serious talk, and I didn’t know how else to handle it, so I I whisper-shouted to him from my window that he had to go home—and he did, without even protesting. All the stuff he’d done to get there, he just performed in reverse! My parents never noticed, and neither did his. When he got back to his own room, he called me. If he was mad he didn’t say so, and we probably talked on the phone for two more hours.
One time I had to use a belt to rappel down a tree from the roof of my bedroom. I had secretly stayed home from school (as usual) and my mom unexpectedly came home during the day to have a romantic encounter with her boyfriend. I was like, “ARGH, BYE, JUST JUMPING OFF THE ROOF WITH THIS BELT RATHER THAN HEAR YOU BONE.”
I snuck out so often that my mom would try to stay up all night to catch me in the act. I would have to wait for hours for her to take a brief power nap, then I’d get out of there as fast as I could. I always felt really bad about sneaking out—what if she woke up and worried that I’d run away or something?—so I always left her sticky notes that said stuff like: “If you’re reading this you’re probably SO mad but PLEASE don’t be mad and please forgive me and don’t worry, I’m safe and I’ll be back soon!”
During a particularly jerky period of my teens I would sneak my boyfriend into my bedroom every night. I pretended to go school in the morning while everyone went to work, and my boyfriend hid under my bed until I came back and let him know the coast was clear. We’d spend the day together in blissful, lusty truancy.
Later in my high school career I was kicked out of my fancy, strict private school and had to spend a year at basically the worst school in London. I got all doped up on this new freedom and started ditching school again—I just liked the idea that I could go wherever I wanted, whenever I wanted. I spent most of the time in my best friend’s backyard, wandering the streets, or watching TV at home while everyone else was out. Freedom!