The Time I Lived Alone

And just like that I was all alone.

After 18 years of living comfortably in my one-level, fully furnished, fully stocked fridge and pantry, Tualatin-suburb house, I was finally on my own.

The last time I moved was, well… never … and from here on out I would have to pay this thing called rent. It’s terrible.

Fresh out of high school, I was to report Aug. 1, 2016 for volleyball at Linn-Benton Community College. The three roommates I had lined up were regular students at OSU, so when I moved in late July I was a lone wolf.

I figured a couple months of living by myself wouldn’t be so bad. I enjoyed being home alone throughout high school — more so I could attempt those Mariah Carey high notes without the judgment from my sisters — so how bad could it be?

I watched more Netflix than any human should before, in between, and after our volleyball doubles practices.

I learned how to cook … kind of.

I became aware of all the little things my parents took care of that I would now have to provide for myself; for example, um… hand soap, toilet paper, detergent, all the food I ever consumed throughout my life that wasn’t takeout. All of these things had always just been there.

Turns out you actually have to go to the store and buy the things you mindlessly use every day; the same things I was used to my parents providing for me.

“I was worried. You had always been responsible, but being completely on your own for the first time is a whole other ball game,” my mom said.

I have always done my own laundry, so that was a breeze, but one thing I had never really done before was sleep in a house all by myself. Was I scared of the dark a few times? Sure I was. Did I have pepper spray next to the bed? Absolutely.

The good news is that I was on the third floor of the house, so the chances of anyone breaking in and getting to me were slim. The chances of my imagination running wild, however, were quite large.

Note of advice: Never watch a Ted Bundy documentary, or any serial killer documentary for that matter, alone, at night, with no one home to share the fear with.

So there I was mid-August, convinced that Ted Bundy was under my bed. I had volleyball at eight a.m. and I knew I needed sleep, but closing my eyes was the last thing on my agenda. I threw up some short prayers until I finally dozed off.

Once in the middle of the night, I turned off my 5:30 a.m alarm in my sleep. Of course it was on the night before a big volleyball tournament in Washington and I needed to be at LBCC bright and early.

I have never dropped more consecutive F-bombs.

I managed to leave my little black iPhone 5 right on the dryer while trying to last-minute pack some underwear and spandex, and was left disconnected from the outside world for three days. Quite a refreshing time, I might add. Far more important than my phone were the six jerseys I somehow remembered to jam into my team bag in the blustle and blur of it all.

Jayme is going to kill me! What happens if I miss the van ride?

I got it all together, minus my phone, and the rubber met the road within four minutes of me waking up in a panic. I swerved into the campus parking lot wearing my pajamas with my bags packed and a pounding heart. I made it, and changed into my sweatsuit in the back of the van.

I couldn’t help but think back to a time when my mom would wake me up every morning before high school. What a luxury it was to have a personal alarm clock that I couldn’t turn off or hit snooze on.

There are a few experiences you go through for the first time when you’re living by yourself. One might be your first solo spider kill, or the first time you grab your chicken knife as a line of defense against the noise you just heard downstairs.

Did someone just open the front door?! Maybe. Or maybe it’s just all in your head. Either way, it’s important to have these experiences and grow as an individual.

It would only be accurate to admit that I was somewhat of a hot mess those first two months.

The constant comfort I felt at home in Tualatin was suddenly not always around. In my case, living alone made me appreciate everything my parents had already provided.

Throughout the freakout nights and solitary days, I learned a lot.

I learned it’s a pain to cook for one, I learned another level of responsibility, and I learned how to take care of myself.

But most important, I learned how to enjoy my own company, and it just so happens that I love it. The experience made me realize how important it is to live alone for a portion of your life, whether it’s two months or two years. The strides I made in growth as a human are priceless, and I’m sure the experience is similar for others.

I turned out alright in the end.

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