I’m posting this while on a train to New York City to see my parents for one last 24 hours before they move to Australia.
Kelly’s talked a little bit about this, and I have alluded to it. We’ve talked about the act of cleaning out our childhood home, about the piles and piles of things that we’ve accumulated and dispersed back into the world. There’s been a healthy dose of anxiety permeating this summer, one that has to do with jobs (or lack thereof), money, traveling. There’s something too, in that now our parents are leaving us for once, rather than the other way around. But, for me, it all basically comes down to one essential truth.
Now I have to be a real adult.
Many of you are going to say (or have already said during conversations to this effect in recent months) that I already am a real adult. I pay my bills and my rent. I vote. I buy my own alcohol. I got my own health insurance (THANKS OBAMA). And to a certain degree, you would be right. I do all of those things. I am perfectly capable of taking care of myself.
But I’ve always been highly aware of the safety net. There’s always been a car in the country for me to drive. My parents, beloved and generous people they are, send me packages of cookies and buy me wine when they come to visit. (They buy me groceries and razors and deodorant too, but the wine is the important part). They are always there for me to pick up the phone and say “I don’t know how to cook this” or “Should I go to Seattle or not?” When we go on long car trips, and we get to gas stations, my dad still gives me money for snacks. He still helps me rent Uhauls for carting my stuff up the coast. My parents came up here to help me move my bed, my window air conditioning unit, my dresser.
This isn’t to say that I won’t be able to talk to my parents frequently, to ask questions, to borrow money if for some reason my budgetary calculations turn out to be wildly off. This isn’t to say that they won’t be there for me. Because I know they will always be there for me. It’s an immutable fact that they’ve proven over and over and over again. Like gravity.
And it isn’t that there aren’t tons of people left in the good old US of A that can help out when we need it. Kelly and I have an enormously wonderful network of loved ones who have offered to do many of the things above, to host us for holidays, to be surrogate parents in the case of emergency or escape.
But I don’t think any of us can deny that something’s about to change. My safety net, while still safe and supportive, isn’t going to be quite the same anymore. It’s going to be further away. Its going to eat vegemite. I can’t just go home anymore.
Part of me thinks this is a good thing. I’ve been wonderfully privileged to have the parents I have, but its probably time to buy my own groceries in bulk, to rent my own cars, to figure out by trial and error how exactly you’re supposed to cook a pot roast. Whether or not I should go to Seattle. What kind of stress my bank account can really take. But there’s a part of me too that is going to miss viciously the enveloping kindness and ease of my home, the way I feel settled there in a way I feel nowhere else in the world.
Perhaps that’s the part of being a real adult that’s really getting to me. For so long I haven’t needed to make a home elsewhere. I’ve had such a wonderful one sitting there waiting for me when I need it, or even when I just want it.
I don’t know how to carve out my own space in the world. I’ve never had to do that. But I guess I’m about to find out.