I call it practice for living alone. Because this summer I am living alone—finally, completely, by myself. A shabby double room halfway down to the basement repurposed for a summer session single. I meet a couple of other girls in my program and we try to find the kitchen promised by the residence hall’s website. No luck. I look at my mini-fridge and realize I need to figure a few things out.

It doesn’t feel strange being in a room alone. I sought that out during the school year, be it my room or the lab or anywhere else I could find a bit of solitude. What feels strange is the knowledge that I won’t eat this week unless I swallow my nerves and make something for myself, and that tomorrow I have to walk into a room of people older and wiser than I and admit to them how unsure I am of myself. Even the girls I meet make half-hidden surprised faces when I tell them I’ll be a sophomore in the fall.

Maybe it’s not practice. It just is. It’s life. That’s OK too. The cashier at the local food co-op scans me in as a guest member when I tell her about the store we frequent back home. I can get apples and eggs just across the street from the dormitories. Hopefully tomorrow I’ll be given my ID and then I can go ham at the food shops at the student union if I want to.

It’s beautiful here. The mountains range high on every side.

I will do this. ♦