The hallways, once a blur of noise and confusion that I scuttled through, head down, are still noisy, but I am part of that noise now, and comfortable in it. I know that it's easiest to find free practice rooms when the guitar/bass ensemble rehearses (because there are more guitarists and bassists than any other instrumentalists or singers at this school). I know that high up on the 5th floor are cubicles where I can sit for hours and finish my homework in the endless break between classes, listening intently to drum patterns or chord progressions while staring out at the treetops and the rain. I know that it's better to work in the small dark computer lab than to try and get work done in the big lab, where kids are blasting YouTube videos of jazz bands at top volume and laughing uproariously at their own witty remarks. I know when there are odd days I can skip school and get more work done at home, and when I absolutely need to be there. I know to avoid the cafeteria, with its overpriced, lousy-quality food, and bring my own snacks. I still go to the library, but less. More to browse and borrow in the fiction section than to hide away from it all.
I am a music school survivor: I have great marks, I do good work, I perform well, I have friends. People have dropped out: broken bones, bad marks, carpal tunnel, lack of interest. I wish I could go back and tell my September/October self to chill out, but of course I can't. I can only hope that come Fall, when I start new classes and a new routine, I will remember this hard-won wisdom and not have to start from scratch once again.