My first night alone in my new apartment a week ago didn’t really register on a conscious level; I was too tired and sweaty from moving on the hottest day of the year. The second night ended up being all too real. Where I once came home to a dog barking and a conversation between family members ready for wading into, there was only a deafening silence. The kind of silence where you spend extra time doing dishes just to hear the water run.
The first time I moved away from home, I couldn’t sleep because I was too happy. In my single bed in my new dorm room, my roommate asleep against the opposite wall, I couldn’t believe that I was finally in the place that I had dreamt of for so long. It’s an entirely different feeling, being an undergrad. There was no confusion, no fear; I had known since the age of 10 that this was going to be my place, and it was where I would be for the next four years without question. I missed my dog more than I missed my parents in those days, but it was the kind of space that was necessary after a turbulent adolescence, and it turned into the kind of space where appreciation for your loved ones can grow.
When I moved back home after graduation there were the usual rough patches, especially when you throw a soul-crushing first job into the mix, but again I never doubted that it was the right place for me to be. More than anything I was grateful that I could live rent-free in the bedroom I had grown up in, while working a real job less than 20 minutes away. In the two years after graduation that I lived with my family, I became closer with them than I’ve ever been before. I am beyond lucky to have them.
Even without counting the material things and monetary advantages that a middle-class upbringing begets, I have received more from my parents at the age of 24 than most people get in a lifetime. Everything that I’ve managed to accomplish in the past few months: a new apartment in the city, filled with IKEA furniture angrily put together by my dad, attending a post-grad program that is a direct investment in my future career while being able to live entirely off my savings is in large part solely possible because of the safety net that my parents have provided me with.
I was able to save the money required because I lived at home for two years while I worked. I can live in this apartment and go to school without the strangling fear of utter financial ruin, because I know if anything truly awful happens my parents are across the city and willing to help support me. And I know that I will live frugally for the next year (or as frugal as possible while paying rent), and I will succeed on my own because beyond it being a huge personal goal, it’s what my parents want for me because they know it will make me happy.
So when I finally succumbed and cried myself to sleep that second night in my apartment, I tried to think of it as a positive reflection on personal growth. I may not be as truly independent as I thought I was, but it’s okay to cry for the home that will never truly be mine again – and the fact that I can appreciate the loss of it makes me realize how far I’ve come from the eighteen year old who could only dream of moving away. And at the end of the day if I’m ever feeling alone, my parents are still there, unequivocally supporting me along the way.