When was the last sleepover you had? 

And I don’t mean the last time you crashed on someone’s couch or any kind of romantic spend-the-nighters. We’re talking specifically platonic, giggly girlfriends, snuggly blankets, and the risk of a happy all-nighter. (Maybe some prank calls, too.) When did sleepovers change for you?

I’ve hosted friends in my apartment for New Year’s, when we somehow tumbled back to our pillows in the wee hours. I’ve done weekend trips with a friend where we meet up at an Airbnb. And I’ve attended one bachelorette party in a bridesmaid’s family’s charming lakehouse — but all of those involved so many more logistics, that I was now responsible for figuring out.

But in grade school and sometimes in high school, I remember trucking into a friend’s basement or living room with my favorite pajamas, my trusty fleece blanket (did everyone’s Girl Scout troop make those or just mine?) surrounded by the giddiness of a true-blue SLEEPOVER
We’d call some of the boys in the early days of cell phones with silly voices, talk amongst ourselves about tampons and school, and debate the quality and quantity of Chad’s armpit hair in High School Musical, in a way where time felt limitless (because bedtime didn’t exist). We were building friendships, one truth or dare and magazine quiz at a time. The magic was in building that space for friends when we all didn't really have our own space — we had our homes with our families, sure, but a sleepover was a special space for friendship, often all night long.

At one friend’s birthday, we played Piggly Wiggly and held a talent show. Another time a mom suggested calling into the local radio station to see if they’d say our names on air. I also spent a night in a trailer that a friend’s grandparent lent to us, parked just in her parents’ driveway, watching scary movies and being goofy. 

The last authentic sleepover I remember was the night of senior prom in high school. The people who were going to Six Flags the next morning attempted to sleep on the living room floor while a group of us ate snacks and talked and laughed literally all night long, sitting outside by the campfire as the sun rose and our sleeplessness hit new silly levels (I still needle my friend to this day about running around the yard reciting the Constitution).

What happened? Adulthood. Probably alcohol in college, a twist on the allure of doing something that you weren’t technically supposed to be doing that sleepovers gently used to offer. And I also kind of blame my Google calendar — when I saw Google's game of blasting away your schedule on April 1, I wasn’t exactly sad that it was an option but the thought of removing any event on accident was too scary for me to test it. Adulthood has sliced and diced our time for friendship into perfectly trim calendar events — and sometimes we just don’t want to stay up too late
When Caroline Kitchener, whom many of you have seen in this space before answering my questions about the postgrad life, reached out with wonders about the effect of missing adulthood sleepovers in our friendship fabrics, I realized that sleepovers were never about sleeping or snacks — they were about the special little space that we created when our friends opened their door to their homes and let us drag in our pillows and sleeping bags and create a nest of friendship in their family’s common space. For that night, it was OURS, for as long as the night lasted. We were building a little piece of friendship heaven. I definitely don’t miss the smell that lingered from the Cheetos and chocolate and puberty bodies in the morning; but the pure friendship that evolved from them felt electric.

That space doesn’t quite exist in the same way anymore. Sleep became more precious with cramming for midterms and then, eventually, work hecticness: Sometimes it *is* hard to stay up late Saturday night when we have to go to work on Monday morning, and if there is the slightest chance of that happening we’ll probably go out with friends and have to navigate Lyfts home at the end of the night. And many of us have also built our own spaces where bonding ends at a reasonable hour. In college my best friends and I tried having a sleepover one night, but we couldn’t all fit comfortably and one friend left in the middle of the night to go sleep in her own bed again. (Which makes sense!) I’m not convinced it’s the sleeping time that really matters here; it’s about the energy of the opportunity to spend all night long creating memories with your friends, especially in that pre-teen and teenage era. (I’d love to hear your thoughts, if you feel differently.)

So what happens now? I’m still an adult, even if I overplan and overthink and have to remind myself I’m only still in my early 20s. And I also have grown, while juggling work and hobbies and exercise classes and 5 a.m. flights like the one I was on while drafting this, to treasure when I can get 8-10 hours of sleep on the weekends 😬. But this is a reminder that sometimes it is okay to blast away a GCal event to make a special space in our calendars instead of our living rooms for friendship to grow. 

Happy spring, y’all. It’s growth time. What’s your favorite memory from a sleepover?

Your friend,

P.S. As promised last month, introducing Planty (on the right) — and new sidekick Planto! We have sleepovers ALL the time.

(...Is there such a thing as a crazy plant lady?)
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🧠 Brain juice:

  • The case for sleepovers in adulthood: Caroline's piece that inspired this issue, with examples of other women having their own (platonic) sleepovers in adulthood: "But girls’ weekends are not quite sleepovers, Langan says, because they’re not 'normal life.' When a group of friends goes away together, it’s usually the culmination of months of planning. It feels 'momentous,' says Smith. But spending a night with friends shouldn’t have to be that big of a deal."
  • How to be a better listener: "Pretend you’re doing improv, and that you can only react in the moment to what the other person is saying, rather than planning out the next three steps in the conversation." And many more tips for how to be fully present and also present no judgment.
  • "The only metric of success that really matters is the one we ignore": A soulful look at showing up and the importance of community in grief.
  • Any other Zumba lovers? This essay about finding a Zumba family in LA's Koreatown reminded me of the lovely group I found in Hartford, CT and how the older instructor kissed me goodbye on both cheeks after I told her I was moving away — after just six weeks of attending class. She is my Zumba (and just general older lady) goal.
  • Is alcohol really all that anymore? Actually, it can be exhausting. Here's a take on why we millennials are tired of hardcore drinking.
  • Funny timing after last month's newsletter on leaving the screen behind: "Screens used to be for the elite. Now avoiding them is a status symbol."

Go sow: Challenge for the week. 

I am definitely tempted to rewatch 2004's Sleepover, but I'm also thinking more deeply about what kind of space I can house to recreate a sleepover space — and I think part of that is about peeling apart my brain and trying to unadult again. Here's to fleece-tied blankets and fuzzy socks, surrounded by friendship. Suggestions are welcome!

Grow the Sow.

Zoom into the full map here.

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