The house purchase had fallen through. The news was disheartening, but mostly because it followed three months of bad news. And more bad news. And even more bad news. The icing on the cake. Stuff that made the Bad News Bears the luckiest sons of bitches. Perhaps if the past three months had gone more smoothly, I may not have blown the blown house purchase out of proportion. But there I was, feeling victimized and left searching for more answers.
And that’s when I decided to stop searching.
I was exhausted from backpedaling. The time had come to give the mind some rest and let the future just play itself out. It was time I focused on the other transitions occurring in my life, like the new job and a recent move from the big city. While I tried to adjust to those changes, it might not be such a bad idea to also enjoy a slice of summer, my favorite season of the year.
The month had turned to May. Summer was right around the corner. Surely, I didn’t want my summer filled with unpacking boxes, painting and fixing up a new house, and all the not-so-delightful responsibilities that go with settling a new home. No, I was going to sit back and soak up some rays, perhaps resume house hunting again in autumn when cooler weather patterns prevail and outdoor activities grow limited by shorter days.
Since I was hardened against the idea of renting, I was left with no other choice: to follow through on my parents’ offer to move in with them. Living with one’s parents at the age of 31 (I’ve turned 32 since then) isn’t ideal. No independent man says, “I’ve lived on my own for 13 years. But I can’t wait to move back with my parents, home-cooked meals or not.” To decide that is truly humbling. A lesson in swallowing one’s pride. But at the back of my mind was a little voice that reminded me, “It’s only temporary. Get back on your feet. Explore this again in a year. And be thankful you have family that cares.”
With that, I threw my belongings into storage — a combination of my sister’s garage and my parents’ basement — and made the spare bedroom my temporary residence.
The reality of the situation is that, like recent research suggests, more young adults are becoming boomerang children, meaning they are unable to leave the nest for good. From financial hardships like insurmountable student debt and growing unemployment during a recession to the credit crackdown for first-time homebuyers, young adults are finding the move back to their childhood bedrooms more economical. I, too, had become a statistic. (Since moving back home, I have actually met many others who are in similar situations, living with their parents until their first house purchases get finalized.)
Living with my parents has been one of my biggest transitions. Don’t get me wrong, I love them. They are supportive beyond all expectations. I would never be where I am without them. And they’re actually pretty cool. We can joke around, share a drink on the weekend, exchange stories and advice — things I would do with a best friend. In many ways, they are my best friends.
They let me park in the garage. They listen to my moaning and groaning. They’ve saved me money and paid for things I think of daily. They’ve lifted me up and brought laughter on bad days. They’ve cooked me meals I haven’t tasted in years. They’ve helped me get back in touch. They’ve reminded me that patience is a virtue. They’ve helped me see the big picture. They’ve filled me with encouragement and a sense of pride that I had long forgotten. They embody love.
Regardless how much love flows through a family, moving back home and living together after being apart for 13 years is a major adjustment. That’s not a knock on my parents; it’s just reality. My mom has even said that she could never move in with her parents after all these years; it’d just be too hard. Yes, there’s a reason we move out of our parents’ house at some point. It’s called growing up. To move back in is the exact opposite, like taking a step backwards into childhood. Which is a tough realization since, in 13 years, I’ve become an independent man with an identity and a way of life. I’ve developed my own rules and habits. I’ve done things my way.
But here I am, living in a spare bedroom, like cramming a life into a box. With half of my possessions at my sister’s and the other half at my parents’, I still have no idea where some of my favorite possessions lie. Probably not a big deal to most, but try telling that to an organized perfectionist like myself.
Then there was the summer of 2012 — one of the warmest on record for Wisconsin. And my parents didn’t have air conditioning. I recall someone saying, “Oh, I didn’t think houses lack AC anymore.” To which I replied, “Yup, they found the only house in the area without it.” Some nights, I slept on an air mattress in the basement for a little reprieve. Other nights, I sweat through the sheets. Fans blew constantly, but they only managed to re-circulate the humid air. I love summer, but I need air conditioning to come home to. I value my sleep. And I become intolerable when I’m overtired and hot — put overtired and hot together, and I become a monster. Even my mom doesn’t complain much, but I swear she nearly reached her breaking point this summer. It was a test for the three of us. A tale of survival.
Since moving back, I have begun dating again. Yes, even online dating (I’ll cover that topic in later blog posts). But living with the parents isn’t an ideal conversation starter or pickup line.
“Hi, I’m Cory. And you are?”
“Oh, hi, I’m Stacy.”
“Nice to meet you, Stacy. Are you from the area?”
“Yes, born and raised. I currently live across town? What about you?”
“Well, I live with my mom. Would you like to come over for dinner? She makes a mean meatloaf.”
Many other adjustment points are noticeable, like a lack of cable (with the football season, I finally broke down and got cable installed, and I think my parents now realize that life is better), different lifestyles (staying up late and sleeping in on weekends for this guy), daily diet and much more. No matter how much adjusting I’m forced to do, I never take any of this for granted. In fact, the biggest adjustment I’ve had to make is how to respond to the outpouring of support I’ve been shown. It’s reminding myself everyday that I’m loved and blessed. It’s wondering how I can ever repay my family for their generosity. It’s pondering if I could ever do this for someone else.
Yes, I’m proud to be a boomerang child…for just a little while.
(Update: Since being turned down for a house, I’ve eliminated most of my debt, invested in the stock market, now boast an impressive credit score and learned that a house purchase will happen in spring 2013.)