For the past week my roommate has been abroad visiting her sister. During this seven-day span, which is the first time I’ve ever lived alone, I have learned a lot — the most important of which is probably to never cook (and by "cook" I especially mean pan fry) anything while only partially dressed; you will burn yourself. Below is a list of some of the other important lessons I learned in my first sampling of solo living:

1. It is much easier to clean up after one than it is two. I cleaned the entire apartment immediately after my roommate left and for once it magically stayed clean and for multiple days. For instance, if I did the dishes, new ones didn’t suddenly appear without warning.

2. Do not watch any scary movies when you have to go home alone. I made this mistake by watching "I Know What You Did Last Summer" with some friends. Later, when I got home, I swear I heard noises like someone was in my apartment, even though I knew I was alone. I’ll admit that even though I knew there was no one else there, I double-checked multiple times.

3. Never cook in a bathing suit (or in the buff for that matter). The decision to cook sans ordinary clothing was driven primarily by my laziness. I had just gotten out of the shower and was really hungry. With no one around, I didn’t feel like going to the trouble of getting dressed right away (especially since my apartment was so hot) and that there was no harm in wearing something more comfortable — a bikini. Here’s why it is worth the effort to put on real people clothes before cooking: While I was frying potatoes to make french fries, some of the oil splattered, leaving me with a minor burn (now a scar) on my stomach. Although I wasn’t injured badly, I did realize how easy it would be to really hurt myself. Which brings me to:

4. It’s much safer to get injured or be sick while at home when you have a roommate. I know that I am fairly clumsy and I know that I hurt myself fairly reliably (see the above story). What I didn’t know was how much I’d come to rely on my roommate for helping me when I’m debilitated. For instance, without my roommate, I wouldn’t have anyone who could bring me soup and medicine or a Band-Aid. I’d have to get up and go out to get everything I needed while feeling miserable. I also wouldn’t have anyone to tell me that I shouldn’t have been cooking without wearing clothes. She would also tell me that I should put some cream on my burn, as she handed me the cream for my burn.

In conclusion, although I enjoyed the experience, I’m not quite ready to live alone. It was fun getting a taste of what it would be like to have my own place. I liked not having to worry about what anyone thought about how things were being done and how much easier it was to keep everything clean; but, ultimately, I think the responsible and mature decision is to wait until I can make it through at least one week without injuring myself before attempting such a daring change.

Sarah Brady Stack, a former Central Arkansas resident living in Manhattan, works for a New York publishing house. E-mail her at