Sunday 22 April 2018

The House Trap Continues: Life after moving back home

The reality of being forced to move in with your parents in your thirties.

The House Trap
The House Trap

Orla Fay

Manchego cheese, good pesto (the €6 artisan stuff I got from Lilliput Stores), pancetta, lardons and soda farls. No, this isn't a shopping list for a dinner party.

This is what my parents have eaten from the fridge over the last three days. They didn't whip up a decent pasta or a nice cheese board with this stuff, no they throw it into lunches, ate it from the packet and most upsettingly burnt it and threw it out (the soda farls, clearly).

Since moving back home, I've discovered that living with my parents - who spent the last 10 years rotating the same three meals, sambos on shopping day and the occasional Chinese takeaway week in, week out - is like living with two teenage boys. They will eat anything. And everything. Without any consideration for what should be done with it. Never once in my house-sharing days did somebody eat all my food, refuse to replace it and then laugh about it. Four soda farls I bought, four, and I got none.

I've also had to explain to my mother why she can't have a can of Diet Coke as a bedtime drink. I love Diet Coke and bulk buys cans of it the way others buy pasta, but since The Move I can't. They go through it like a kid at a birthday party and to be very honest, I can't afford to provide them with a constant caffeine high.

I like food, I really like food, and stock up in swanky shops from time to time in an effort to eat better and see how the other half live. You know, the half who always have duck paté in their fridge and some elderflower they preserved last summer hanging in the garage ready to be whipped into a cocktail at dinner party's notice. But I digress. I like food but I'm not mean. I appreciate that I'm living at home rent free so have no problem getting the messages (when in Rome speak Roman and all that) but I draw the line at paying for food I don't get to eat.

And so I'm in a pickle. I tried casually bringing it up over Corrie one idle Monday evening. "Just as an aside, maybe if you eat the last two bagels, replace them, there was nothing for my brekkie yesterday morning and I had to have cereal like a peasant," I said. All jokey-toned and smiley-faced. To which my Dad answered: "Do you not eat two of them things? They're tiny, either way, that's not how we do things here, we eat til it's gone and then we get more - you're shopping for a family now."

Well that's that then. And so my farmers' market fling has come to an end and I now join in on the three dinners and one takeaway diet plan, although we are up to five dinners now that I've introduced a few crazy options into the mix. Options like fish and roast veg and one day even a chicken stuffed with cheese and wrapped in bacon. The only thing that survived was chorizo. "Is it raw?" "Is it cooked?" "What do you do with it?" They're terrified of chorizo, the sausage kind, but they'll eat anything ready sliced without a second thought.

And so my adventures at home continue. We're another month down now, and apart from the realisation that women over 50 don't understand Hollywood waxing, it's getting a bit easier. Enforced family nights out have made me accept that I need to look at my parents like I would a new girl in work. They're not going to get everything straight away but they'll give it their best shot and try to fit in before they're quite ready. And in fairness, I can't expect them to understand me. After all I've spent 15+ years lying to them about where I was, who I was with and what I was doing. Sure they barely know me. However, given that the new ESTI report states it's harder and harder for young people to get on the property ladder we'll have lots of time to become BFFs. And it's true, my initial plan, which came from the nice lady in the bank as an aside, saw me cut way back in order to save a 10pc deposit and an extra few quid to buy white goods, some potted plants and a decent mattress within a year. That's looking less likely now that research shows the average low cost house in Dublin is now priced around €200,000 and is in Crumlin.

Now before everyone gets up in arms, I've no problems with Crumlin, I have a problem with the €200,000. By my current calculations that has me at home for an extra six months, without factoring in inflation. But there's no property bubble, you know. Well, according to Enda.

And so I'm stuck. Of course there are some upsides, living at home is forcing me to be incredibly social. Where once I'd spend whole weekends in my pyjamas eating food and drinking wine brought to me by delivery men (yes, off licences deliver) such behaviour is frowned upon at home and so I'm forced to make plans and see people. In fairness, even if it wasn't frowned upon, such behaviour is no craic if there isn't a similarly glad 30-something on the couch keeping me company, so my hand is being forced from every angle. In moments of absolute clarity, I can admit that this side of the arrangement is better for me.

Because I no longer have a place to hide and ignore the world, I have to take part in it and so instead of moaning that I'm single yet doing nothing about it, I'm out there. It's scary and desperation to not spend another Saturday night watching Miriam has seen me attend the birthday parties of people I've met once, twice at a push, but hopefully this social roulette will result in more friends and possibly a fling or two. If nothing else it's giving me a great line in small talk and helping to silence the tiny voice in my head that shouts Stranger Danger when a man approaches me.

As for the waxing, there's no need for knocking in this house, you see. "Sure I have one myself," said my mam has she barged into my room to root around the wardrobes still filled with her clothes . And so I accepted that, I'm not shy about nudity due to the fact I grew up with an open door shower policy, but when she questioned why I'd make myself look like a little girl I told her to get out. "Sure the only fella who'd like that is a pervert," resulted in me shouting "f*ck off!" and almost getting grounded.

I'm still doing the washing up to make up for that one.

First published in INSIDER Magazine, exclusive to Thursday's Irish Independent

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