Friday, June 10, 2016

Morning in the city

Good morning. Thanks for the wisdom and support yesterday. The day got immeasurably better as the sun came up and melted the brooding thoughts. Still, as someone observed in comments, it's very different living with your grown children after they've lived away than it is living with them as they're growing up. It's a more complicated dance, as I discover every day. But with rents in New York City so crazy high, our kids returning from college have all moved back in with their parents. Our situation is not unique. I think the college grads chafe at this arrangement at first, because they've had four years of pseudo independence, and now, if they want true independence they have to create it from scratch. In this economy, it takes a minute.

Three years after graduating college, my son's goal of becoming a firefighter/medic is finally coming to be. He's worked two jobs simultaneously while pursuing this goal, which is not an easy one to achieve. He will continue to  coach track and field at a high school in the city, but he gave notice at his corporate job two weeks ago. His last day was yesterday. He was set to move out on his own on June 1. He and one of his former college housemates had been approved for a nicely renovated two-bedroom in East Harlem, a gentrifying part of town. But then the whole FDNY process suddenly starting moving fast, and he realized he'd need to quit his main job. He decided to wait until he could see the new shape of things financially before committing himself to steep New York City rents. Living at home chafes him far less than it chafes my daughter. My particular theory on that is he is better at backing his mother off when she becomes too intrusive in his affairs. He also hates living alone while my daughter relishes it.

I avoided this post-grad transitional dance by moving to another country for college and going straight to graduate school after it. And rents were more affordable then. I rented my first apartment, a one-bedroom in Morningside Heights, for just $325. The apartment my son almost moved into with his friend would have cost him $1200 a month just for his half of the rent—$2400 overall. And grad school's not a given anymore. Unless you're sure of what you want to pursue it's a prohibitively expensive path. Yesterday I listened to my daughter and one of her friends, and my son's girlfriend talking about how hard it is to find your footing in the city, and how so many people end up in jobs that have nothing to do with what they studied, just to pay the bills. It was really a conversation about preserving your dreams, and pursuing them, and figuring out when and how much you bow to pragmatism.

My heart goes out to these kids. I think I had it much easier. But I do believe if we can get past the wanting everything all at once (guilty as charged) we can create lives that are personally meaningful. It's happening now for my son. It will also happen for my girl. I keep reminding her that she graduated not even two weeks ago. So breathe. She and I agreed last night that it's time for another purge, a massive throwing out and giving away of things. Still, as much as I complain about being overrun by things, I'm happy my children have a place they can come home to, a net under them as the plan the next stage.


  1. Purging. I feel it creeping up upon me. Time to do it!
    Yes. Sounds like all is falling into line. Sorry that your son's plan for a move isn't going to work out for now. It will. I can't even imagine paying NY rents. We watched a little bit of some reality show about NY realtors last night and it's like another planet there. I don't know how y'all do it.
    Love and peace to all of you.

  2. This does sound like a lot to bear but I like your perspective despite the temporary chafing! Sounds like everyone is doing their best. I hope the awkward transition times go as smoothly as possible for all of you-it can be really hard making the adjustments and going through these "twenty something" growing pains, for all involved it would seem! I echo Ms. Moon's love and peace :o) Hang in there. You're doing great <3

  3. Best of luck with this new phase of life and hugs to all of you. Purging is not easy but, at least for me, it helps lighten and re-focuses priorities. Have a good weekend.

  4. I miss views like this occasionally

  5. I think the American middle class is in deep trouble and thus, our children are facing tough decisions. How good your children have a place to stay with you while they craft their plans.

  6. Your comment about what you did after graduation made me think back to my post-grad time, too. I was at home for maybe a month, maybe a bit more, but as soon as I found a job I moved out again. I'm only realizing now that those weeks might have been hard on my mother's nerves! Your kids are lucky to have a temporary place to land. Yes, breathe ... and declutter ...

  7. Some of my best times were spent with my children when they moved home for awhile after they were grown. It is a blessing to have space to make for them when they need it.

    On the other hand when I graduated in 1968, I soon moved out and although I lived in a variety of "iffy" places it all turned out ok. My first rent was $80 a month in Detroit.