Monday, April 6, 2015

Dormer Diaries

8:54 PM

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Leaving home to live alone is a daunting task to face. Leaving home at twelve years old is downright terrifying. But when I moved to a school about an hour away from home (on a normal day), the most practical thing to do was to pack up and to stay at a place closer there.

I’ve lived in a “dorm” with my brother since I was in my first year of high school. And while we weren’t exactly alone (my mom didn’t really trust a 12-year-old and a 14-year-old with all the appliances), we didn’t live with our parents either. We were left to fend for ourselves and to try to grasp at the intricacies of independent living. And of all the things I learned these past five years, I can summarize it in three words: responsibility, resourcefulness, and recognition.

The first thing about living alone is that you have so much more freedom. Even if I was only in high school, I got to decide when I went home from school, if I went to a classmate’s house after class, which fast food place to order from if I didn’t like dinner, etc. I enjoyed having what I said, go.

As I got older, I realized that just because I had this much freedom, didn’t mean I had to exercise it all the time. Staying out late wasn’t just my call, since I was keeping someone else awake staying up for me. Or if they weren’t staying up, I woke them up once I got home. Going out was fine, even necessary, sometimes, but I couldn’t just decide I wanted to go out and not tell someone I’d be home late.

When we went home for the weekend, we couldn’t just lock the doors and leave – we had to make sure the gas was turned off, the water was shut, electronics were unplugged, and bills were brought back. We also took note of the things we didn’t have anymore, like cooking oil, laundry soap, or shampoo. When we back to the dorm after the weekend, we double-checked to make sure all the things we needed for the whole week were prepared and packed in our bags.

No matter how responsible we were, there were times we ended up forgetting something anyway. Because of this, we had to learn to be resourceful. For the simple things, I could ask my friends who had extra to bring some over, or if they were going to buy, I would ask them to get some for me as well.

My brother and I have had to improvise on more than one occasion. One time, he needed to get a 2x3 haircut for school the next day – but by the time he realized it, all the barbers were closed and wouldn’t be opening until the next morning. So we set up a makeshift barber’s chair in front of the mirror and I snipped away the longer parts of his hair (that remains one of the more stressful events in my life).

Another time, the school let us dress up for Halloween (that was the first time it happened; it’s a yearly tradition now), and we scrounged around all the drawers and cabinets to look for a costume. I don’t think we did badly either – I ended up going as the Phantom of the Opera (complete with mask and cape).

Personally, I think we improvised as much as we did because we really didn’t want to spend much money, especially since our parents weren’t there to cover for our expenses during the week. There were some times we had to spend on things, like if the LPG ran out, or if there was no more rice or drinking water. Those things were what made me recognize how hard it was to live alone.

As it is, our parents are still in charge of our major expenses – rent, electricity, and water – but even now, I’m starting to understand and feel the not-so-glamorous part of living alone.

The worst thing I have ever experienced living alone was the homesickness. There were times when I wanted to curl up and zone out because I’d suddenly get a bit homesick, or I’d miss my parents, but I had to learn to get over those flashes. I recognized how important my parents, my room, and even my (annoying) little sister were to me because of living alone, and I’ve come to appreciate them more because of that.

I’m in college now, and living alone isn’t all that amazing anymore. I’m looking forward to having more misadventures, more nights out, and learning more about living alone – because hey, that’s where we’re all headed, right?

Article by Rio
Art by Pio

Rio is (trying to be) an engineer-in-training, an athlete and a singer, with her love for science, sports, and music in that order. She's also (trying to be) a writer, with her trusty laptop/phone, sour cream flavored chips and/or strawberry ice cream. (Whether or not she succeeds is another story altogether).

Pio is an aspiring animator and artist. A gentle giant, it's hard for him to go unnoticed anywhere, but gives him attention when he draws in public.


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