I moved in with my parents again at age 30—here’s what it’s like

I grew up on an island, so when I moved away I appreciated freedom more than most people. The simple things like not missing the end of a gig because you need to catch the last ferry back or actually having a local Starbucks (we have one NOW, like twenty years behind everyone else). And although I love the island (everyone from there calls it “the island” like we’re in Lost or something, no word of a lie), I vowed to never move back.

But I moved back. Circumstances meant it was only viable option for a whole plethora of reasons and, at thirty, I’m getting to live out the dream all young men and women have: I’ve moved back in with my Mom and Dad and it’s literally all of the feels.

I didn’t think they were going to let me unpack anything. Just like in Friends when Monica’s parents turn her room into a gym when she’s left, my room is not my room anymore. It’s pretty much a perfectly decorated show home, everything co-ordinated like in a magazine spread, and junk is not allowed. So the ten boxes I shipped back  are still taped up and stacked in the junk room (a.k.a. my Dad’s office).

It’s pretty chilled now, five months in, but hasn’t always been. All those things that drove you mad as a kid have got the potential to make you crazy all over again. For instance, I got told off for putting the washing machine on the wrong setting (who even knew there was a wrong setting?!). The fact that the microwave caught fire while I was using it didn’t help much either. It’s no secret: I’m no Nigella in the culinary stakes, but I refuse to accept responsibility for the microwave grease fire incident of 2015.

No-one was harmed, but Mom was pretty mad to get home and find her beloved and, might I add, twenty year old microwave in the garden. Thank god the spin dryer blew up while my dad was using it, or they might have kicked me out for home appliance vandalism. Despite being a disaster in the kitchen, nobody cooks for me. I do my own washing, if my Mom doesn’t ransack my room while I’m out. I never ever eat the last ice cream.

There are total positives too, that make all the telling off worthwhile. Movie nights are great. My Dad is obsessed with some pretty niche actors. And my Mom will only watch action films. (FYI, she liked Furious 7, but it was a bit too emotional. Could’ve done with more action.) Her favorites usually star Steven Seagal, that stealth legend of plastic-faced proportions. Rom-coms are totally banned (though my brother and I have a standing tradition of watching You’ve Got Mail every time he comes home).

Plus, I’ve made myself useful. I set up Dad’s blog, and ordered a bunch of stuff for Mom from Amazon. I empty the dishwasher even when they tell me not to. It’s a delicate balance, but it’s not the life-crashing-down-around, complete-failure you might expect. It’s true that no-one plans this. The freedom that comes from living alone, with partners or friends, is something I took for granted. Walking around naked is on the DON’T list and having people back in the evening, of the romantic variety or just to, y’know, Netflix and chill, is also a no.

But if you can cope with the compromises and the fact that it feels like your life is winding in the wrong direction (where’s my NY penthouse bachelor pad, yo?), there are legit worse things you can do than move home. Once you get over the initial feelings of shame, disappointment and general anxiety for not achieving all the things your friends achieved by the time they were thirty (and everyone has their own thing, anyway), there are actually pluses you wouldn’t expect. I’m on my own timetable, now. It’s not where I thought I’d be. But I kinda like it.

Amy Mackelden writes for a feminism & pop culture blog here, which she co-edits with writer Amy Roberts. She’s had work in heat magazine, New Statesman online, NANO Fiction, xoJane, and in poetry anthologies from The Emma Press and Cinnamon Press. She’s currently developing a show called MS is my Boyfriend, about life with multiple sclerosis. Dawson’s Creek is her bae.

[Image via ABC]