Since graduating from university and moving back to Yellowknife, there are a few questions I get asked a lot:
How does it feel to be done?
(Bit of a relief. Glad I didn’t blow my GPA at the end.)
Do you have a job?
(Yes, sensibly and productively employed.)
Where are you living?
It’s the third question I try to avoid.
Because I am living with my parents. At 21 years old, this shouldn’t be a big deal. I’ve been back every summer and staying in my childhood home didn’t feel strange before…but now it does, because come September I’m not escaping to a warmer climate (and cooler roommates). I’m not the only one living with my folks. The 2011 Census revealed that 42 per cent of Canadians aged 20-29 live with their parents. Despite the stats, I can’t help but feel like a free-loader. My parents left home after graduating high school, and according to their “back in my day” musings, they relied on part-time jobs, steely resolve and occasional student loans to squeak by.
After high school graduation I moved to Victoria, B.C., and for eight months of every year I paid rent, did laundry, bought groceries and vaguely resembled an adult. Now, with my Bachelor of Arts in hand, I’ve returned to my hometown to burn off some of my student debt, and figure out what to do with my life. There are certain benefits of living with my parents during this transitional time. The first, obvious one is the absence of rent. I googled how much my own place would cost me, and I was looking at $1,800 a month for a two-bedroom, or $1,500 for a single. Although the idea of living alone is appealing (I could finally hang my pug posters free of complaint), that’s a steep cheque to write each month while my childhood bedroom is still on the market, and free.
One of the pitfalls of living with my folks is that they worry about me. If I creep into my house at 2 a.m. after a night out with friends, I discover my dad standing in the kitchen, glaring at me, looking like the emperor from Star Wars in his oversized bathrobe. While I prepare a late night snack I get grilled: who were you with? Where did you go? And most importantly, who walked you home? (In my house, walking home alone at night is a Class 1 offence.) It doesn’t matter that ‘The Tree’ is within striking distance of our place, or that in the summer we approach 24-hours of daylight – I’m still their little girl.
And that in itself is the biggest problem with living with your parents; they treat you like their kid, and you start to act like one. My parents come home from work to discover an explosion has ripped through their kitchen: there’s my purse on the floor, my sunglasses on the counter, my lunch Tupperware in a sopping pile in the sink. I wouldn’t do this with any other roommates, but these are my parents; they’ve been picking up after me my whole life, so they must enjoy it deep down. And while I know that’s not really true, it’s easy to find excuses when dirty dishes are involved.
Living with your parents is tough, but so is living with anyone. Sure I get tired of having to explain where I’m going, or having to turn off the TV at 9 p.m. because some people are going to bed, but it’s a small price to pay: every month I’m saving hundreds of dollars so that one day I can afford my own place.
Just think how many pug posters I’ll hang then.
Jenny Aitken was born and raised in Yellowknife. She recently graduated from the University of Victoria, where she studied creative writing and journalism.