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Crystal called and invited me to come over because she had marijuana. Knowing that my grandparents would not let me out of the house, I snuck downstairs in my pajamas, avoiding all the creaks in the floor. I stood inside the garage for ten minutes. Once it seemed like nobody would be coming down to check on me, I slipped out the back door and began my journey. It was freezing outside, and all the dogs started barking. Everybody in my neighborhood knew me, which made the trip dangerous. Walking down the street, I encountered drunk Marines who didn't mind hitting on 13-year-olds like me. Some followed and taunted, but all were gone after a while.

When I made it to Crystal's, nothing sounded better than smoking some marijuana. I went inside through a window, and we spent the next 30 minutes smoking. We were having fun until ten of Crystal's friends crawled through the window with booze and more marijuana. I began to get a little paranoid and was uncomfortable around Rick, one of Crystal's friends, so I decided to head home.

Due to the amount I had smoked and drank, walking by the Marines was not as scary as before. I then passed Justin's house, where there was a party going on. When some people saw me, they asked me to come in and drink with them. I agreed, but regretted it right away. There was cocaine and heroin everywhere. I had been around cocaine before, and it makes me uncomfortable. As they were all shooting up, I continued to drink. Once I was barely able to walk, I snuck out a window and jumped off the roof because I was paranoid and thought that they wouldn't let me leave.

I woke up with a splitting headache and with my ankle throbbing. Confused, I slowly recalled the night before. I didn't get in trouble because nobody found out about my escape. Even though I didn't get caught, I look back on that night and all the dumb things I did and realize I was lucky I only got a hangover and twisted ankle. -- Cami Perrington, Helix Charter H.S.

Four friends and I left a black-and-white dress-up party one Saturday night after I'd recently turned 16. I'd had a driver's license for about a week. I had trouble parallel parking and seeing through my back window, but continued to back out until I felt my car smack against something. Luckily, the car behind me was a huge Jeep, so the only injury it suffered was a slightly dented license plate. My little white Civic was not as fortunate. The paint along the entire bumper chipped off so that the gray metal showed. My dad didn't know that I was at the party, and there was no way the damage could pass for a hit-and-run. So, I needed some car paint.

Wal-Mart has everything, but the only Wal-Mart open was the one in National City, which meant we had to take the freeway to get there. But I had never driven on the freeway by myself. There's a longer back-road route to get there, but I was low on gas and none of us had money. We needed to hurry because it was almost 11 p.m., Wal-Mart's closing time. So, I let Edward drive. He didn't have his permit, but he felt confident about driving because he was arrested for stealing his friend's mom's car a while back.

We walked into Wal-Mart, all wearing black and white, looking like hoodlums. Because we didn't have any money, we had to steal the car paint. I was too scared to do it, so my friend pocketed it and gave it to me when we got back to the car.

I was excited when we got to my friend's home because everything was working out -- so excited, that when I took the paint out of my purse, I dropped it and it shattered all over the garage floor. I fell to the ground and tried scooping up what was left of the paint onto my car. I felt ridiculous because all I had to use was that little thin brush attached to the paint bottle's cap.

Only after the bumper was done did I realize that I had gotten the wrong shade of white. On top of that, the new paint was bumpy and thick, making it even more noticeable. But I am a lucky girl. I went online when I got home at 2 a.m. and told my friend Kurt why I was never going to see daylight again. Kurt turned out to be some kind of car guru and said he could fix my bumper.

I spent the entire Sunday afternoon sanding and painting my car with the correct (and paid for) shade of white paint. The labor was worth it because my father still doesn't know what happened. --Jacqueline Le, Bonita Vista H.S.

My first driving experience was not a typical one, considering that the male side of my family has a mild obsession with off-roading. Furthermore, my brother, two years my senior, has been a stellar driver pretty much since the day he was born. When my father announced it was time for me to master the art of driving, I felt somewhat intimidated. I was taken to an off-road trail on Los Coyotes Indian Reservation, northeast of San Diego, a site my father and brother could maneuver with their eyes closed. The chosen car was a yellow '79 Jeep Cherokee that already bore the scars of many battles with rocks, trees, and any unfortunate creatures that had gotten in its way. Once we were as isolated as possible, my dad hoisted me -- a lightweight eighth grader -- onto the driver's seat while my mother and brother looked on, worried (in my brother's case, terrified).

For reasons unclear, my dad decided I would learn best on a curvy, narrow trail that was flanked on the right by a slanted hill and, on the left, a steep drop-off. I reached a speed of 12 miles per hour when my dad, frustrated yet somewhat amused, asked whether I thought it was possible to go any slower. I gripped the oversized steering wheel with sweaty hands and was not in the mood for sarcastic remarks (I was only 13!) about my inadequate skills. So, I decided it would be a good idea to show them all what I was capable of doing: I stepped as hard as I could on the gas pedal.

With a frightening sound that only a V8 engine can make, the yellow monster lurched forward as I lost control of the wheel. When the cloud of dust settled seconds later, I realized that the car had driven up the hilly wall of earth to the right of me. With any quick movement, the car could have rolled off the hill, and, well, yeah. It was probably when I was extracting myself out of the car via the passenger door that my fear of driving first blossomed.

Everyone was in somewhat of a daze on the way home, but later my family teased me about it. I did not drive for quite a while after that incident. -- Jennie Matusova, La Jolla H.S. About six months ago, I was at the movies with some friends. One of them showed up with some vodka. The rest of us didn't object, so we drank it. Needless to say, the movie became a lot more enjoyable. After it was over, we stumbled out of the theater and began to head home. I wasn't driving, but I ended up going with the provider of the alcohol. Before we left, he did a drive around the parking lot, and then we got out and rode around in shopping carts.

After we got that out of our systems, we headed home. My friend's driving wasn't that impaired, but it was marked by random bursts of speed. Then we rolled by a cop near the entrance to Interstate 5. My friend wasn't happy about this, so he sped onto the freeway, saying that cops don't have jurisdiction on the freeway. In retrospect, this was completely unnecessary because the police weren't following us. If we hadn't gotten on the freeway, I would have been home in two minutes. Instead, we made a detour.

I got home no worse for wear, and he did too. It was pretty reckless, but he seemed to be fairly in charge of the situation. It was a dumb thing to do, but nothing bad came of it. -- Grant Barba, La Jolla H.S.

I was heading east on the 56 freeway, and I needed to get onto 15 North to pick up my mother's birthday present at North County Fair. I failed to notice the sign that says "no left turn." I sped into the intersection and hit an oncoming car on the backside. The pale faces of the children in the other car still send shivers down my spine. I was within a foot of hitting them where they sat. I jeopardized my life and that of others. I do not think I would be able to handle it if anyone had been injured.

My car accident was a result of reckless driving. Not a day goes by that I do not think about it -- how I could have avoided it and how much damage I caused. Compared to the van that I crashed into, my car was severely smashed. Damages amounted to $9000 for both cars. My insurance rate skyrocketed. It was an expensive lesson, but cheap when I think about the fact that nobody was hurt. -- Vivian Pham, Mt. Carmel H.S.

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