I’ve Got My Heart Set On What Happens Next

by Susan Pogorzelski on October 9, 2008 · 4 comments

I’ve got my memories/
Always inside of me

Switchfoot, “This Is Home”

I’m moving back into my parents’ house on Sunday.

I’m moving back into my parents’ house on Sunday.

I’m moving back into my parents’ house on Sunday.

Nope. No matter which way I put it, it still makes me want to bang my head against a wall. Preferably padded. Still, I’ve never been more torn: is this a good idea or a bad idea? Am I helping or hindering myself?

I don’t know why I’m still trying to rationalize this — months ago I had it figured out that this was really the best choice for me, my only option as I struggle to navigate an uncertain future and forge a new path for myself. And it still is the best choice, the only choice, only as I sit in my apartment and stare at the empty bookshelves and bare walls, as I glance at the mountain of packed boxes that have taken over the dining room, I realize just how independent I really am, despite my recent fears of familial dependence. I wonder if that independence is something I’ll take with me, or if it’s something I’ll leave behind, as I shut my apartment door for the last time.

I know that it really won’t be that bad. Statistically speaking, something like more than half of all college graduates move back home at some point in their lives. Sometimes it’s what you have to do to get by (and this economy is certainly making my argument easier), and it doesn’t mean that you’re a failure or no longer independent or less of an adult. Right?

Actually, that’s probably the greatest reason why I fought so hard against moving home, wondering if I’ll lose whatever sense of independence I’ve gained. My parents are great, as they’ve always given us our space. In fact, my mom says the only thing she wants to know is if we’ll be around for dinner. But for the past two years (longer, if you count being away at school), I’ve had my own apartment, completely independent and on my own. By having this apartment, I felt at least somewhat like an adult:

I loved shopping for furniture when we first moved in and decorating for the holidays when the weather got colder; I loved using Roommate as a guinea pig as I learned how to cook (and found that I was rather good at it); I loved entertaining friends and hosting small parties or even curling up on the couch for a movie night. And the fact that I didn’t mind cleaning the apartment or doing the dishes or taking out the trash — or taking Riley up and down two flights of stairs four times a day — made me feel like an adult, too, because adults did those things, and now that I was a Real Adult, I could, too.

It’s different doing chores as a kid. When you’re a kid, you try trading with your siblings or bribing them with a promise. You use every excuse in the book to get out of taking the recycling out or emptying the dishwasher because you have your parents to cover for you, you could really care less, and you have more important things to do, like setting up a neighborhood game of flashlight tag .

But when you’re an adult, suddenly you don’t mind it as much. Sure I complained and left dirty dishes in the sink (probably longer than I should have), but I didn’t mind it because it was mine. This was my home and I was responsible for it. And that just felt good.

I’ll of course help out around my parents’ house, as I often do when I go over to visit, but I think the difference is that it’s not really my house anymore. My home, yes, it will always be my home, in my heart, but it’s not my house. I grew up there, but still something has changed in the way I view it, as if that’s part of another life, another me.

I’ve grown up. And sitting here in my apartment, my dog at my feet and my cat glaring at him from across the room, with the TV on low and the furniture ready to be moved out, I’ve finally realized this truth, finally reconciled with that fact.

So while my present self and my childhood memories will merge this weekend as I move back to the place where I spent my childhood, I know that I can have confidence that this is only another stepping stone as I continue to grow, as I become the independent individual, the adult woman, that I’m ready to be.

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