I thought I had the perfect system. I had mastered climbing the gutter and drainpipe system of the house of suburban 70s stucco that my father had deemed acceptable to rent during an extended respite from living on base. I could climb in the window to my room while creating as minimal noise as possible that might echo and creak into my father's ear drums usually located on his head somewhere around the other side of the house. I had it made. At any hour of the night, I could come and go as I pleased. I don't know if I ever thought whether I had earned the right do so due to my fifteen dutiful years living under His thumb, I just knew I wanted to spend as little time locked up in His kingdom as possible.
Those were wonderful months (or was it mere weeks?), and the freedom intoxicated me. The Saturday night that I silently twisted my body through the crack in the window and landed on my bedroom floor only to look up to see my father sitting up straight on the edge of my bed in darkness, a cold face of stone peering not at me but rather the night itself (or so it seemed), I knew that it was all over. I was over, at least for the foreseeable future. My father came down hard on me, and while I know the physical and emotional abuse I suffered pales in comparison to the stories offered by the children of angry alcoholics I have encountered over the years, I have a hard time imagining anyone else imprisoning an adolescent with such a stoic, self-denying determination. I know I missed out on a lot of parties and a lot of deathless nights in anonymous fast food parking lots…I know this because I lived vicariously through the friendships I did manage to maintain. I'll never get another chance to be an irresponsible teenager. But I know this: freedom should never go to waste on a quiet night at home watching TV.