In a little less than six weeks, I will be a college graduate. I will be one of many walking in an enormous processional, except I will probably be standing out as I try valiantly to not trip over my cap and gown. They asked for my height, which I proudly inserted as 4 feet 11 inches. Weight-wise, I was tempted to click between 200 and 300 pounds, just to see if a “really?” status would emerge with my order confirmation.
The ceremony will conclude, I will take my dear sweet time packing up my room — sorry, parental units — and then I will get in the car for a trip down 17 East; a trip in which I will not return westward, unless my sister ends up going to Binghamton and I come along for a visit, or unless I ‘accidentally’ leave my phone in my apartment. Oops. Sorry.
I will arrive at my destination in Westchester, reluctantly pull out suitcases, boxes and garbage bags of all of the crap I have accumulated in the past few years and avoid unpacking.
Once I unpack, I will officially enter the next phase of my life: living at home as a college graduate.
What was once seen as a destination for only slackers with zero ambition — other than to beat every video game under the sun — is now the norm and is completely acceptable, as you transition into financial and actual independence and figure out what the hell to do with yourself. It’s a fallback, just in case your big, bad dreams got in the way of any significant income whatsoever (and here is where I raise my hand).
Financial independence is one thing. Anyone who has luck on their side will eventually get a job and earn that. But actual independence is another.
For one thing, you probably can’t rewrite the rules as you move back in. Unfortunately, having a second spring break for most of us is just a tease of what life will never be again. Somewhere in between Passover and/or Easter and May 22, what’s permissible and what’s not permissible changes drastically. Some of us will go from “the exhausted student who needs some rest” to “the adult who better figure out what to do with him or herself!”
For the Passover-celebrating folk, don’t let the dark chocolate matzah and four cups of wine sweeten the reality and bog down your ability to see what’s really coming in six weeks, because what you will be experiencing at your seder is not representative of your future. It is certainly not representative of mine. My mother only cooks chicken soup twice a year.
Some parents will be happy to have their children home and around to help. Others will stare at their watches impatiently, mouths drooling in anticipation of becoming empty nesters. Whichever category your parents fall into, the best way to categorize your parents is in a way that we are all probably familiar with: as roommates.
Consider the roommates you have had throughout college. Some you have chosen, some you have not. Some you shared an incredibly cramped space with — probably those you didn’t choose. Yet somehow, you managed to get through it, and (hopefully) respected their space. It will be easier to respect your new parents’ space, because you definitely won’t want them to wake up on a Monday night to your creaking bed.
And you know what? They probably feel the same about you. That’s just awkward. More awkward than any dorm experience. Because … well, you know. Let’s not go there.
They probably fear that you are the roommate that waited for the fairies to clean up the dishes, that didn’t know how to run a dishwasher, that let boxes and bags accumulate and blasted heavy metal 24 hours a day. Use the final weeks of college to find out how to run one … Ah, Google and Ehow!