Burnt salmon and shrunken laundry. Sweet freedom and shameless sleep-ins. This is moving out; the good, the bad, and the overlapping in-between.
I’m a hypocrite. There, I said it. Rewind my life back by two years and you’d see me taking the form of a parasitic, millennial leech. Typically found in freshwater jungles or in the suburbia of Brisbane, I (gratefully) sponged and scrounged my way off my parents rent-free walls and freshly home-cooked meals. I used to boast to my fellow cooped up friends of how idiotic it seemed to move out by free will at such a young age. A part-time wage spent on rent instead of a FREE room in your childhood home? How ludicrous. Leaving your parents to live in a frat-share house with hormonally-imbalanced teenagers? No thanks, not me. Whenever my parents friends talked of kids flying the coop, I’d look at my mother and give a reassuring wink, “Don’t you worry, I ain’t leaving this house anytime soon. ”
It’s now been seven months that I’ve been living out of home and out of Australia. From only having to share one bathroom with my brother and being home alone 70% of the time, I now live in a six-person share house in the streets of North London. I definitely didn’t expect it to feel natural straight away or to immediately excel at life as an ‘adult’. Everything was changing and I had sacrificed my old ways. But, in it’s place, new things grew.
Freedom. Sweet, tantalising, independent freedom. You have the liberty to let dishes sit for longer, sleep a Sunday away, have chocolate for dinner, come home at 3am and feel no obligation to answer to anybody. Of course I co-habit with other roommates, and I’m not an animal, so I’m still required to clean, respect and keep the house at a reasonable noise. But besides these mutual agreements, I’m free to govern life at my own will. I’ve noticed that living out of home I’ve learnt to do ‘more’ of everything. I read more, write more, clean more, make more mistakes, trial new recipes more, and ultimately, I know more about myself.
I pay my bills on time, I’m a registered NHS patient and I do my weekly groceries and manage to fill it mostly with vegetables, fruit and protein. I have an active social life and don’t feel pressured to come home early on a weekday. I work out at least two times a week in the gym and I take damn good care of my adopted children, aka plants. I take care of my own unwanted spider visits and open my own irrationally-tight jar lids. I’ve had to become stronger (not just physically), but emotionally and mentally. And yet for all these freedoms, there are also practical realities to consider.
Although I may not live alone, I do have to survive on my own. When you’re going at it solo, you’re forced to embrace independence whether you like it or not. I have to budget and think ahead. Like, ‘If I buy this £40 sweater, can I afford groceries this week?’. I don’t have my mother to sort my whites from my colours and I can’t depend on Dad to pick me up from a night-out if I’m stressed and stranded. When you’re cooking for one, food goes off fast, so I’ll be eating stale bread five out of seven days or playing chicken-roulette trying to decide whether the visuals outweigh the smell. I need to be a decisive problem-solver and a self-motivator. I have to vacuum dusty floorboards and bleach mould from tiled bathroom walls. And you know what? Sometimes I darn well don’t want to.
Living out of home can also permit suppressed feelings of loneliness to resurface. As much as I love my roommates and enjoy hanging out with them, there is nothing quite like the familiarity of, well, your family. I want to watch reruns of shitty movies on television with Jordan whilst we eat mint choc chip ice-cream by the tub. And I want Dad to come into my room and randomly snooze on my bed whilst I read, or for mum to greet me in the hallway for our daily morning giraffe hugs. Getting sick also sucks. Nobody offers to source your medicine or check your fever, so you’re left in this hole of self-pity and snot. And gone are the days of wake up calls, home-cooked meals and soft, dry linen towels.
So, that’s me at seven months in. I still haven’t nailed the art of living out of home, but I’m also not completely sucking at it either. Living out of home is almost like a real-life Venn diagram, where the good and the bad are consistently overlapping. Things still delight and confuse me. I’m continually surprised and always learning something new. For all the unwashed undies and pricey utility bills, there’s also peace, independence, and a free will to just be.