Monday, December 1, 2008

leaving home

Last week, I wasn't able to post as often as I usually do because I was out doing thanksgiving-type stuff. We had a wee bit of family drama (who doesn't?) and the person who was in a snit and said they weren't coming did actually show up, and so we were thankful that all the usual participants were there.

Anyway, I was moving more stuff out of storage this weekend, and it reminded me of something that I think varies widely for environmental folks. In the interest of family harmony, I moved out as soon as I had a job, as I've mentioned before. But I know people who lived at home for years after they got a job in environmental consulting. Why? Well, first of all, it isn't exactly a high-paying job. But in addition (especially if you're working for an abusive company), you're not home except for weekends. And you're exhausted on the weekends, so you just sleep and get ready for the next week. Is it really worth paying for an apartment that you're not spending any time in?

This raises another, more general issue. When you move out, do you have some sort of option to move back in? In my case, once I was out, I was out. My mother told me that when I moved to my first apartment after college, she cried for about 10 minutes and then immediately started plotting ways to use the extra room. Bottom line: when I visit my parents, I am a guest. I sleep on a spare bed and I live out of a suitcase. When I moved out of a big apartment (think lots of furniture) and went ridiculously far away to grad school, I couldn't leave anything with my parents. I'm still paying the damn storage fees, which means that by this point it would have been cheaper to chuck everything and then re-purchase it (I'm a big salvation army shopper).

My SO, who came from a more privileged upbringing, is horrified by this. The "kids" rooms are theirs and I guess will always be. So if they move to a smaller apartment, they can stash the overflow in their old rooms. And if someone loses a job (a distinct possibility in this economy), it's easy to come home and retrench.

I never imagined that I would turn into a nomad. When I was younger, I thought I would come back from college, settle down close to my parents, get hitched, and never move again. But circumstances change, and now I've lived in three totally different regions in as many years, and my stuff is spread all over the place. My parents' house hasn't been my house for a long time, and nothing really feels like home right now. Maybe when I finally get rid of that storage space, one way or another...


EcoGeoFemme said...

Mine experience was like yours and I like it that way. I like my independence and not having my parents in my business. I find it rather strange that some grad students I know still receive care packages from their parents, consider the parent's house theirs, and think of their parents new dog as their own. I wouldn't want that now.

Anonymous said...

I have a good friend who works in the environmental field and lives at his parents house even though he is damn near 30. The reason is exactly as you said, he is sent all over the world doing remediation for months at a time. Living with relatives is the only way he can manage to pay bills on time. He is now engaged and planning a family. I often wonder how his absences will affect his family plans.

Anonymous said...

It caused a lot of tension in our family when my mom died and my father remarried someone who had a radically different attitude about stuff and space. He let her "clean" (i.e. get rid of all my mom's stuff) without consulting or notifying my mom's sisters, who were very hurt.

I was out of college and working a job that involved a rather nomadic life at the time, and had stuff stored at my parents' house because it was simply impossible to have it with me. Then when I became un-nomadic I didn't have the money to go down there and fetch it. So when they moved, my father and his new wife threw out my stuff.

By now I kind of see their point, but they threw out things that were irreplacable, including rather important personal papers. Then lied about it.

I guess either approach is okay, but changing the approach abruptly is not something I would recommend. I still haven't forgiven my father for that (though he did other stuff too - oy).

Anonymous said...

When you're an adult, you're an adult. Your parents' house is now just that, your parents' house - it is not a storage facility (pretty nervy of you to complain about having to pay to store your own belongings!). It sounds like they welcome you when you want to stay there. Grow up and be grateful, and live your own independent life!

Short Geologist said...

And from anon, we have the opposite "family culture" from my SO...incidentally, if it seems like I was complaining, it wasn't about my lack of storage space at my parents', but just that I haven't figured out to do with it.