Wednesday, May 4, 2011

How to know when you are truly OUT of your parents’ house

You know you have officially moved out of your parents’ house when you return for a visit and find yourself sleeping on an air mattress on the floor of your sister’s old bedroom.

Now, I like to think of myself as a generous person. Whether or not this is actually true, I am at least practical enough to agree that it makes more sense to allow someone to stay in a fully furnished bedroom that used to be mine as a child than to keep it locked tight and gathering dust. Therefore, when my cousin K___ needed a place to live and my parents offered her my room, I agreed that this living arrangement was a good idea.

However, when I arrived home the weekend of my sister’s graduation, this “good idea” suddenly felt like a personal affront. I was forever going upstairs and heading straight into my old bedroom on autopilot, only to see an array of unfamiliar belongings strewn about the room. Not only that, but my formerly meticulously organized possessions and decorations were now scattered haphazardly about, buried beneath a pile of knickknacks or pushed aside to make way for an assortment of my cousin’s pictures, hair ties, and lotion bottles. I opened the dresser drawers (ostensibly looking for makeshift pajamas) and found myself facing a collection of clothes that were not at all mine.

While I wholeheartedly acknowledge that giving someone else my old bedroom when I am obviously no longer living there is, in fact, the best possible arrangement, I cannot say that seeing my room completely covered in someone else’s stuff didn’t make me feel somewhat replaced. I felt as though my parents had found a new daughter to live in my old space. Without my childhood sanctuary intact, I finally felt like a visitor in my childhood home. My neat, orderly, sunny yellow bedroom was no longer “mine”, and it probably never will be again.

Looking at the situation objectively, this is clearly a good and necessary thing—I need to be out on my own, earning and developing my own space in the world. Yet as I confronted this reality head-on in the span of one short weekend, I realized that I have not yet completely moved out of my parents’ house, at least mentally. I have not yet defined “home” for my adult self.

1 comment:

SD said...

Could be worse. My parents moved to a house with one less bedroom when I went away to college.