So I turned 30 yesterday. It’s hard not to get introspective and melancholy about such a big birthday, so to distract myself, I thought back to half a lifetime ago.

I was not really such a wild and crazy teen, but all the same, when I think of my high school high jinks,  I really want to lock Ruby away from the ages of 12 to 21. Hell, maybe 25.

One of my more memorable high school adventures took place on Friday, Sept. 15, 1995, the eve of my 15th birthday. I was in incredibly good spirits that afternoon after school: I been properly feted by all of my friends, I had a huge bouquet of balloons, and two hot senior boys offered to give me and my best friend a ride home from school! Also, I’d told my mom that I was spending the night at my friend Sarah’s house, neglecting to mention that Sarah’s parents were out of town. So Sarah and I ordered a pizza; mixed up a blenderful of daiquiris; and then decided, around midnight on a complete whim, to drive to Baton Rouge. (We were sober by then, I hasten to add –– we were dumb teenagers, to be sure, but we weren’t that foolhardy.)

We climbed into her red convertible, in pajamas and giddy with the thrill of being unsupervised teenagers with car keys and poor judgment and a lot of good CDs on a gorgeous mid-September night. As we peeled out of her driveway in Lake Vista, she yelled, “This is your Halfway to 30 trip, baby!!!” and we laughed and laughed at the ridiculous notion of ever being quite that old.

We got to Baton Rouge around 2 a.m. and did … I don’t know what all exactly. We ate at an all-night Shoney’s. We bought tabloids at a 24-hour grocery store. We got lost in a subdivision with a lot of cul-de-sacs. It wasn’t exciting stuff. The point was more that we could drive to Baton Rouge in the middle of the night, that we were already loving the taste of freedom, even if it was only for a weekend.

Around 4 a.m., we started back. By 4:30, Sarah’s eyelids were drooping. We stopped at a gas station for coffee, and I got a cup of ice water and flicked freezing cold droplets at Sarah’s face throughout the rest of the ride. We put the Friends theme song on repeat as loud as it would go. We giggled and shrieked and sang along as loud as we could, anything to stay awake.

We made it safely back to her driveway right as dawn was breaking, and when I woke up later after a few fitful hours of sleep on Sarah’s sofa, all I could think was how very happy I was to be 15 and alive and home.

I’ve now lived another lifetime since that night and had a lot more adventures –– and a child. But when I stop and reflect on the past 15 years, not all that much has changed: When I woke up yesterday morning, all I could think was how very happy I was to be 30 and alive and home.