Story by Dash Paulson
I graduated recently. Yay. Not much later I asked one of my friends over a beer where he was going after college. “Well, after this I have to go live with my parents for a while,” he said. I nodded gravely, as anyone might on hearing tragic news.
Last year my best buddy since freshman year finished a degree in economics, two research theses, and a minor in Chinese. Potential employers were mightily unimpressed. After walking at graduation, he had to move back in with his parents and get a job at a golf course as a caddy. But his story ends happily. He bettered his Spanish on the golf course, got fed every day by his mom, and eventually was hired to a stellar bank job in Denver.
On the other hand, staying with the parents doesn’t work out for everyone – especially if they’re not your parents. Another friend graduated a year before me and moved in with her boyfriend, and he moved in with his mother. This woman was, by all accounts, very sweet, generous, and obsessed with penguins. Penguin photos, penguin statues, stuffed toy penguins, penguin memorabilia, penguin postcards, penguin plates, etc. I didn’t see the house she spoke of, but the general impression was penguins. She has a job in Portland now and is quite happy – just never mention waddling arctic birds.
I’ve heard some of my peers speak with shame or a hint of grief about moving back with the parents or about others for doing so. It’s as if our overqualified generation was having a tough time finding work in a stagnant economy. Between unpaid internships and student debt payments that can exceed the cost of rent, I ask now, what’s so bad about living with the parents (for a little while)? Those of us who can go home for a few months are lucky; whining about living in the basement is a luxury many can’t afford or consider.
There’s drama to consider. Some parents might feel that they already provided free room and board for 18 years without nearly enough appreciation. Many might welcome back their progeny with open arms and a kitchen full of dirty dishes to scrub.
My own birth givers have been known to turn on the nightly news with Bryan WIlliams and call me over to watch whenever there’s a special report on the tribulations of the millennial generation. Tensions can make your parent’s home start to feel just a bit like some sort of conflict zone, but you’ll probably be fine so long as no one annexes the TV remote.
I wouldn’t complain about moving back to my parents’ place for a little while. It’s 15 miles from the nearest town, there is almost no traffic and the fridge is always full. I spent some time there after my summer classes ended and lo and behold there was a new miracle behind the house: a hot tub. A shiny new tub they’d saved for years to install. And I got to use it. For two week after summer classes I lay in that steamy paradise every day, twice a day. I did most of the dishes and cooked dinner and ran most of the errands to town in between soaks, but the tub made most everything better. Also free food. I had to cook the food, but free minus labor.