Imagine you’re moving into your first real apartment. Or maybe your first dorm room. Your generous, loving parents have offered to come help, because, well, their baby is becoming a real adult. You think it will a bittersweet day full of emotional moments.
And then the terror begins.
Just as your parents’ have unreasonable expectations for your newfound independence, your expectations about them joining you on ‘moving day’ are pretty misguided.
THE MORNING OF:
• Expectation: You will leisurely wake up in your parents’ hotel room on move-in day, then go to the cute little diner in town to grab a protein-filled breakfast to fuel you throughout the day.
• Reality: Your alarm doesn’t go off, and your parents get antsy becasue you NEED to start moving as early as humanly possible. You stop at the local Dunkin’ Donuts and grab some coffee and a sugary donut for the road, all the while your parents arguing over directions.
• Expectation: You arrive at your new place, which just happens to have new floors, new paint, granite countertops, and stainless steel appliances. It has even been cleaned in preparation.
• Reality: After what seems like hours spent hearing your dad discuss Boston’s disorganized street grid, you pull up in front of your new digs. You’re hungry. You’re tired. You’re sweaty. It’s 7 am. Your dad finds a parking spot nearby. Your mom refuses to believe it’s a legal spot. A friendly police officer happens to drive-by, but they can’t agree on who should step out of the car to ask about the legality of the parking space. You imagine being arrested would be a better fate than this. Your dad then tells you a story about a time his car was towed one hundred years ago. Your mom claims the story is full of factual inaccuracies. You want to die. And then there’s the apartment. You walk inside and it looks at least semi-livable, but your parents are less than pleased. Your mom claims she can see invisible, secret mold in the bathroom, the kind she’s sure Katie Couric has mentioned recently. Your dad comments that he’s not a huge Couric fan. You want to lie down on the semi-dirty floor and cry. But wait, was that a cockroach?
OUTFITTING THE NEW PLACE:
• Expectation: It will be SO fun to go shopping at Ikea! You cannot wait to decorate your apartment to look just like the realistic swag palaces depicted on “The Mindy Project.” You’re thinking boho-chic with little hipster accents, like that clever wooden record player. You don’t know what a record is, but you do know they’re the hallmark of cool.
• Reality: Ikea, your dad says, is too far away. Also it’s a foreign company. Buy a bureau there and you’re essentially supporting communism. Your mom thinks she may have heard a rumor about Ikea and horsemeat. She’s reasonably sure it was reported by Katie Couric. Instead you end up at Target, followed by its evil twin Bed Bath & Beyond. It’s a disaster. Your mom spends what seems like an hour discussing the merits of mattress pads. Your dad insists that you need a socket wrench. He then busies himself checking labels to see if ‘any of these god damn products are even made in America.’ You finally make it to the registers, where your mom reveals what appears to be a lifetime’s worth of twenty percent off coupons. And then the kicker. They fail to mention that they aren’t helping buy this stuff, so you will be using the entirety of your summer savings on a mattress pad you didn’t want and a socket wrench you don’t need. (Those Anthropologie teacups you’d been eyeing? Those are out of the question.)
SETTING THINGS UP:
• Expectation: Your dad pumps everyone up, spending the ride back to your new apartment commenting that people who complain about putting together furniture must be weak and incompetent. (That’s what directions are for!) You have a hammer (because you were made to buy one), so this desk will practically make itself! You won’t need dad’s help lifting anything because you took that Pure Barre class yesterday and feel really strong.
• Reality: The desk is crappy, but it’s you that are weak and incompetent. It looks like a spaceship and it weighs (roughly) the same as a baby elephant. You leave it on the curb and decide that your bed is where you will be most productive anyway. But crap, you forgot your bed won’t be delivered for another three weeks, so your sleeping bag will have to suffice as an office. You joke that you could just sleep on the mattress pad, which launches your mom into a long diatribe about how much your back could suffer if you did that. She thinks she may have heard something about it from “those two ladies who get drunk during the last hour of that show that’s on in the morning.” Your dad expresses disdain, commenting that morning TV is what’s ruining America.
YOUR NEW NEIGHBORS:
• Expectation: Your neighbors are definitely going to be your best friends. Your parents say they look like “trouble,” but you think they look misunderstood. You tell your mom that not all tattoos are gang tattoos. You begin daydreaming about bringing them cookies. They’re going to love you.
• Reality: You knock on their door later that afternoon with some baked goods. They completely ignore you. (And did they just draw their blinds shut? Oh well, more cookies for you!) But that evening, their blasting rave music gives you a throbbing headache and you wonder if this relationship will blossom after all. Then there’s the police car circling your block and your landlord coming over to remind you to deadbolt the doors after dark. Okay, so maybe your mom was right. Maybe that teardrop tattoo didn’t just mean your new downstairs neighbor is just an emotional guy.
FREE AT LAST:
• Expectation: You will be very happy living alone, because you’re cool, independent, and so, so ready for this. You casually wave goodbye to your parents as they pull away from your new place. This is gonna be awesome.
• Reality: Tears. Lots and lots of tears. First your mom, then you. Then your dad, but maybe it’s the three parking tickets he just noticed. You spend the night alternately checking that your door actually locked and sobbing to Celine Dion’s cover of “All By Myself.” You call your parents, hoping for sympathy and reassurance. You long to be told that they miss you as much as you miss them, and you picture them holding a framed elementary school photo of you while also holding each other in your childhood bedroom, which remains and will always remain a shrine to your youth. They don’t answer the phone. You fall asleep in the fetal position on a mattress pad. You call the next morning, expecting your mom to sound heartbroken. She answers the phone, sounding out of breath. It must be all the crying. “Oh, no honey I’m fine. Your dad bought an elliptical machine. We put it in your room.”