A couple of months ago, the opportunity to move in with my boyfriend of 5 years came up. The way things had come about was extremely desirable and super lucky (we would be moving into the townhouse our friends were moving out of). In other words, we were #blessed.
At the time, I was feeling a bit claustrophobic. You see, despite being 27 years old, I was still living at home with my parents. Brad was living with a good friend in a nice house. I spent my time between the two places, living out of a few bags wherever I was. I love my parents and I love Brad, but I felt trapped. When I went home, where my own bed and TV and books and mail was, I would spend most of my time in my room. Especially after the addition of the Christmas tree in the living room, there aren’t many places to get comfortable at my parents’ house. As for my staying with Brad, we spent 98% of the time in his bedroom (not as cheeky as it sounds), which also served as the office space for his business and a place to stream Netflix and eat lunch when we were lazy.
I was living life in two boxes. Moving out, moving into a place with ample room for just two of us, a place I could mold and shape into my (our) own, was the solution to this problem. I didn’t see it as possible in the past, but suddenly…it was.
We went back and forth about it, but ultimately it’s what we wanted. So we made the decision, told the necessary people, and planned to move at the end of the second week of January (my prospective date was Jan. 11). I knew what was ahead and I had been packing (a little) and buying (a lot) of things for the space. We were picking out brand new furniture at various stores and outlets. Everything was real but it didn’t feel real.
My emotions during this prep time were confusing. I was excited, of course, to start something new. I was also terrified, of course, to start something new. I thought I should be more excited to be moving in with my boyfriend, but we spent so much damn time together already that it wasn’t going to be much different. Still, I was a little worried that I was a robot and that maybe this was the wrong choice. What if it broke us up? What if we drive each other crazy? What if we can’t agree on big decisions? What the heck if?
I wouldn’t know the answers to those questions unless I moved in with him. I am very lucky that my parents have an open-door policy for me and my sister. No matter what, I always have a home. But come on. I’m in the second half of my 20s. If ever there is a time to try the adult life, it kinda should be now. (I do not and will not ever judge anyone for still living at home. Do what works for you until you’re ready. That’s what I did!)
During the whole process, I thought a lot about an episode of Oprah’s Lifeclass featuring Steve Harvey (you can find videos and more on this site) that I watched with my mom. Steve Harvey is known not only for his acting and comedy skills, but his no-nonsense advice. He answered a lot of questions during the episode, but one particular case stood out. A young woman, early 20s, was still living at home with her mother. She graduated from college and works a full-time job. Before she had entered “the real world”, her mother was pretty lenient on curfews and expectations. But when she had become an adult, she found that her mom was getting strict. She now had an expected curfew and chores to complete around the house.
This young lady was ready for Steve Harvey to tell her mother that she was being crazy. That did not happen. Instead, Steve Harvey told the girl that, if she wanted freedom, she had to move out and create her own rules. The mom is the owner of the house (think “If you live under my roof, you gotta live under my rules”) and could create any rules she wanted. If she didn’t want to be up worrying until all hours of the night about her daughter, if she didn’t want to continue to clean up after a 20-something when her daughter was capable of doing it on her own, well, that was her prerogative.
He proved his point further by using the example of a baby bird fleeing the nest. That little bird can’t fly right away but, knowing that it will eventually reach food, the bird will flap its little wings, falling and flailing until it finally learns to fly. It is the struggle, the push to learn before really knowing what to do physically, that teaches the bird to become independent, find its own food, and fly.
It’s all about taking the leap, ready or not. The leap is scary because you don’t know where you will land or how hard you might fall. It’s a fact that you will fall. It will be hard. It will take time, patience, and determination. But it strengthens you and it becomes you.
It was time for me to be the baby bird leaving the nest to care for and protect myself (and my boyfriend, when necessary…more on that later), despite the fact that the only other time I had lived on my own was my charmed college career. Cooking, cleaning, groceries, bills...they wouldn’t be done for me.
I’m still falling from the nest. I’m still waiting for the utilities bills to see what kind of damage I cause (and could change, hopefully) when it comes to heat and water. I’m still struggling to motivate myself to cook lunch, often eating pickles from the jar and growing hangry by the minute.
The first week, especially, was tough, emotional, and draining. Quite a few things happened, and I can’t wait to share them with you. However, I’m going to wait until Part 2 to share those stories.