I’m writing this post from the cozy comfort of my childhood home. I’m sitting at the desk in my old room, where I used to do my homework and dig my head into girly teen magazines while listening to Nirvana, trying to get over my unrequited crush.
I’m 34 years old, and I’ve just moved back in with my parents for the third time.
I could never wait to leave my home when I was a teenager, the silence and uneventfulness of the countryside weighing hard against my teenage angst. I wanted to see the world away from this place where everyone knew everybody else, where everybody dated everyone’s friend of a friend. I wanted to live in a city, an actual, big, crowded city, where I could meet new people but could also escape the ones I did not want to see. When I was 19 and finished school, I got myself an internship at a TV production company in Munich, found a room to share with three other people and a dog (who was clearly my favourite of the lot), and immediately felt completely at home. I had a social life away from my old environment, while on the weekends I’d often drive back home to see my family and friends. My internship was exciting and busy, I learned how a documentary series was produced for TV from concept to post-production, and I got good feedback. My boss soon decided to prolong my internship because they were so happy with my work. I was on top of the world.
Then I realised that at the end of the internship period I was so wrapped up in my new little life, I forgot to plan ahead. I forgot to look for a new job, and when the internship ended, I had no way to pay for anything. So I moved back into my parents’ house the first time. I was 20 years old at the time.
Knowing that I wanted to go back to Munich as soon as possible to not lose touch with the new friendships made, I got a temp job at a publishing house, where all I had to do was type data into a database. Not exciting work, but had remotely to do with the entertainment industry and I had flexible working hours, and they were fairly well paid. It gave me enough money to move into a new flat with a new roommate, and it gave me enough time to join a group of talented film students who were working on an indie movie and needed some free help. While working on this film I was then able to score another internship, this time in the editorial department of another TV production house. This ended up being one of the best, most fun jobs I have done so far. Everything about it was just so cool, and my excitement for it translated in the management offering me a job at the end of my internship term. Unfortunately, the TV show I was working for was cancelled at the end of the season, and by the time I found out about it, it was like a week before the end of my internship. Again, I had not looked for alternative options, because I only wanted the one ahead of me. My manager tried to help me find something new with his contacts in the industry, but to no avail. Nobody seemed to want to hire me. After four unemployed months in the most expensive city in Germany, I was completely and utterly done with it. All my hard work and the effort I put into finding my way in the industry seemed ineffective, my work not valued, I had failed. I felt depressed, often did not leave the house, distanced myself from my flatmate. That’s when I moved back in with my parents for the second time. I was 22 years old at the time.
I needed to save some money to get back on my feet, so I took a ‘regular’ job closer to home in an office. It was only going to be for a year, or so I told myself. I was going to save money living at my parents’ rent-free, and then I would travel a little bit, and then I would go back into the entertainment industry, find a ‘more interesting’ job. In the end, I stayed in that job for five years and was living with my parents for three of them, before I got my very first own apartment. It was probably because I stayed at home for so long at the time that I decided to break away in a much bigger way than I had before. At the age of 27, I finally moved not only from the countryside to a big city but from the countryside to a city in another country, divided from everything I knew by a sea channel. It was a country with a language different from my own, and on top of everything I decided to go to university there, with mostly 18-year-olds I had nothing in common with apart from an interest in our field. It felt and sounded insane to everyone else, but I just needed the change, the challenge so badly.
I stayed in England for 7 years. I successfully finished a degree in popular music studies. I made and lost friends. I worked in anything but the music industry. Ended up in customer service and even had to work in a call centre, letting people shout at me to make ends meet. Again, despite my hardest efforts and my skills, I didn’t seem to get anywhere. I started to feel the existential angst again, and it affected not just my work but my private life as well, the latter being almost non-existent by the end of it.
This is when I moved back home for the third time, just last month. I’m now starting a new job, again close to home. While I’m getting back on my feet I will live with my parents again. The decision is not only a practical one though. Every time I moved back here it felt slightly different from the other.
The first time I did not want to come back. I had to. I had no money, no job, I had no choice. I was not happy, at all, and all I did was trying to get back out again.
The second time I did not necessarily choose to come back home, but I was in such a low place in my life I was relieved to find refuge in a safe place where I could recover. I kept telling myself that this would only be temporary, that I’d go back to a creative job again soon, but really this was just a coping mechanism. In the end, it wasn’t the worst thing that could have happened.
This time, coming back to my old room was an active decision. I am pretty happy to be back. I’m not going to stay here for long, I will be looking for a new flat soon, but in the meantime I’m enjoying the comfort of the place. My parents and I have a great relationship so it is like moving in with flatmates you already know and like hanging out with – failsafe (well, almost).
I don’t think I’ve arrived at a final destination in my life, not sure if I will stay here (or even in the country) forever, and I’m not sure if I’ll do this job forever, but I have finally realised what coming back home means. It means I’m lucky enough to have this one place I can always fall back on. A place where I’ll always be welcome, and where people know and love me. That’s pretty amazing, and I know I’m luckier than others in that respect. So while the fact I live with my parents at age 34 might look weird to an outsider, Boomerang children are not (always) the middle-aged losers the stereotype describes them to be. Sometimes they’re just lucky people with a supportive family and the opportunity to start new.