I was a late bloomer. I was a good kid in high school. I didn't drink until after football season my senior year. I didn't sneak out of the house until I did for the first time.
I'm not sure when it was, but I'm sure I was still living at home when my parents expected me to come home as much as they expected me not to. After an older brother and an older sister, I'm sure that the midnight path out the sliding glass door was well worn.
The worst part of this story is that I do not remember it. I've asked some of the people I was with and they don't remember it either. The best part of this story that I cannot remember is that I will never forget it.
One night I probably lied and said I was going out and would be back late. I left the house after being picked up. If it was Jeff, it would have been in a Trans-Am. If it was Russ, it would have been the Nissan.
What I don't remember is who, what and where. What I do remember is the thrill of being out all night. Not having a home to crash at. Trying to find something to do. Driving with the windows down. Drinking Mountain Dew. Going to girls' houses and having them sneak out to talk to us. At some point, we met up with others and a gang of us went to Kathy's house. I asked Kathy if she remembers the night. She doesn't. I remember by the time we got to her house the birds that sing an hour before sunrise were singing. I remember joking about Kathy's hands. Her hands contained zero bones, but 27 servings of Jell-o.
Then at some point, as the sun was just peeking up above the horizon, I was dropped off at home. Sneaking back in is always harder than sneaking out.
In the front door. Up the stairs. Across the creaky floor. In bed, clothes and all.
(Fake sleepily) Yeah?
"Did you just get in?"
(More fake sleepily) No.
A second lie and then asleep, smelling of grass and sweat and Mountain Dew and being young.