The thing I, as a shorty, looked forward to the most about transitioning from jailbait-hood to manhood was the right to move out of my parents’ house and “be grown” somewhere, anywhere, on my own.
“Give [me] free!” my autonomy-hungry heart cried out as I signed the lease to my first apartment two days after turning 18. I had just completed the final rite of passage out of adolescence—finally using my precious virgin credit—and was itching to take my newfound adulthood for a test drive. (My first act of adulthood was letting my parents know that I was a full-time homosexual, right after I returned from signing that lease.)
Although many people I know made similar expeditious exits from the nest upon reaching the age of consent, others saw no point in f—king up a good thing and opted to stay a while … or forever.
Rapper, actor and 106 & Park survivor Bow Wow/Shad Moss recently became the subject of much to-do after revealing to People magazine that he intends to remain living in the basement of his mother’s home after his upcoming marriage to Love & Hip Hop star Erica Mena. To be clear, that home is a mansion with eight bedrooms, and that basement has three bedrooms of its own, a movie theater, two living rooms, a kitchen and an arcade and can hold 100 turnt turn-uppers as his mother sleeps peacefully two floors up.
But despite any possible fiscal or logistical benefits, many couldn’t fathom a grown-up—much less a married, employed one—willingly living with his or her parents. Assumptions of poverty and declarations of wackness rained from the sky in Internetland. Still, Mr. Wow maintains, “It just makes sense.” And I never thought I’d ever type these words, but … I agree with Shad Moss.
Today, 12 years as an adult, after relocating back stateside from Panama, I can attest to the power of a strategic stint at home con la familia. Folks now need two or three jobs to pay the cost to be the boss of a residence with a front door and a noncommunal toilet. Living with your family for a spell can provide a stellar opportunity to bring your bank account back from the dead, get your mojo back, and prepare yourself mentally and financially for the next big step.
As parents ache, ail and age, a younger presence in the home provides much more than financial benefits. The yard work that takes Pops an hour may take you 30 minutes. Now Mama need not call up creepy ol’ Mr. Kelly from church to stain the deck out back or climb the ladder herself to get the Flavorwave oven off the top shelf because you, youthful and quick-moving person, can help her out with things like that. It’s the little things. Everyone wins.
During college, living at home means that money you would have spent on room and board can be directed toward important matters like stacking luchini for life beyond the nest, helping your Jordan collection prosper and even—perhaps—helping out thy former guardians financially for a bit. Imagine that!
On a sentimental level, the opportunity to reside with family that loves (or tolerates) you while you pull it together, or not, should be cherished. While living in Panama, I looked on Facebook one day and found out that the nieces whose diapers I changed just last week were now college-bound. “When the hell did that happen?” cried I.
I lived in New York, Los Angeles, Panama and New Orleans over the past decade, and it’s refreshing now to be home to experience their last goofy teenage years before they, too, flee the nest and get down to their own “adulting.”
But butt-nekkid boozy brunches in Mama’s dining room just don’t sound as sexy, which explains in part why so many millennials shake the spot as soon as legally possible. Living alone as a young, working adult is magnificent. You can come, go, clean, hump and live as you wish. Building your own life in your own space, on your own terms, is an unmatched experience.
But with sweet freedom comes potentially catastrophic financial responsibility. When you’re living alone, the freedom to leave dishes in the sink overnight is all yours, but so, too, are all the bills. And the credit burden, whether the luchini floweth or not.
Or you could get a roommate.
Choosing someone to cohabitate with is not to be taken lightly. That they’re friendly and seeking lodging when you happen to be seeking is not enough. Can they clean worth a damn? Can you really depend on them to cover their share of the monthly bills? Do they cook? How different are your lifestyles? Do they put sugar in their grits? Are they employed in a way that won’t potentially lead to your having to testify against them in court? These are just a few of the questions you must ask yourself when considering with whom to share a roof.
Look, it’s hard out here for a student-loan-paying pimp. As the ongoing fights for livable wages reflect, having a full-time job often isn’t enough to secure a decent standard of living and ensure regular access to chicken. When you consider that “one in five young adults lives in poverty,” and that phat salaries aren’t nearly as plentiful as many were promised before swan-diving into lifelong debt, it’s not hard to see why, sometimes, the best move is to reel it in, get over yourself and mosey on home. Remember: It’s a means to an end.
Alexander Hardy is an Afro-Panamanian writer, foodie and teacher who divides his time between plotting meals; running his blog, the Colored Boy; and slinging words across internet land on sites like Gawker, Saint Heron and Very Smart Brothas, where he works as a senior writer. Follow him on Twitter.