You may have already met me, I’m Dave, student of the University of York; Birmingham; Oxford; Exeter; Plymouth; East Anglia; wherever. I’ve spent my first year away from home, and consequently, so much of my mentality has changed. Previously, coming back from university has always been for a few days: a visit, but now, with nothing to tie me to my new home, I return back to my old one for quite a bit longer.
It’s always the same; the first two days are the best. I get welcomed with open arms back into my humble abode and begin by relaxing onto the reclining chairs and making the most of my parents Sky TV subscription. We go out for dinner, and as the long lost member of the family I have free rein on where I feel like going, what I want to eat and drink. It’s barely crossed my mind at this point that I’m going to be here for the next three months… well I suppose; if it stays like this I’d love to stay.
The only problem is; it does not stay like this. I’ve returned into a world where, to my mother and father, I’m still their diminutive, irresponsible son who they’ve known and had the prerogative of guiding for eighteen years. So little has changed in their eyes, and so much has changed in mine. Before I left for university, I quite genuinely, probably, could not have survived for particularly long, in any kind of comfort, on my own two feet. But now, with a house of my own in another city and a bank balance capable of sustaining me, as well as all of the life knowledge which gets you through a year by yourself- I most definitely could survive if I walked straight out of the front door tomorrow.
Yet I don’t receive the respect of an equal to my parents in this time warp of a return to my childhood house. One of the signs that the honeymoon period is wearing off is the inevitable instigation of mother’s nagging. Don’t get me wrong, I’m probably at fault for leaving my mug unwashed by the side of the sink after having a cup of tea, but I live by a different approach now and such things seem ridiculously trivial. What I’m used to is the model where pans might not get washed until you need them for dinner the next afternoon, and where it is not unheard of for a flatmate to go home for the weekend, leaving a large quantity of their items cluttered round the kitchen covered in pasta sauce for the rest of you to overlook in your own daily activities. This isn’t laziness, and shouldn’t be snobbishly looked down upon as living in filth… it just bothers the older generation more than the student. At university no-one tends to bat an eyelid because they’ve learned tolerance and it’s your problem to clean up after yourself. No-one expects you to leave the pots there forever; it’s quite obvious that you’re going to get to them in your own time.
At university you’re an independent adult capable of making your own decisions and you’re respected as one by everyone you meet. That means that if you want to go out three nights before an exam (I wouldn’t by the way) it’s your own fault if you fail. If you want to spend a lot of your money on a certain item you really wanted you’re fine to do so, and there’s only your own common sense providing the safety net that mother’s opinions on a ‘waste of money’ would once have stepped in and provided.
After a week at home it’s beginning to dawn on me that I’m probably not going to see anyone from university for a long time, with the chance exception of a brief visit to someone or a weekend away here or there. Rather, I’ll be stuck in limbo, perhaps trying to earn some money or do something productive alongside the relaxation. However, I’ve never been away from my university friends, from my independence, from control over what I want to do, for this long since before I left in the first place. And I’ve changed since then. I don’t expect to be criticised for something I’ve decided to do or not to do. My parents now have far less of an ability to guilt trip me into thinking or doing what they want me to think or do. I’ve grown into a proactive person who has to run their own affairs, and I kind of like it that way. Perhaps they see my newfound ability to openly think for myself and have confidence in my own ability to run my own life as arrogance, insolence, or perhaps are just apathetic towards it. Probably nothing is going to change their opinion of me as their little child until I move away and start my own family. One thing is for sure, I don’t know how the hell I managed to live in this house for eighteen years, I don’t even know how I’m going to do it for the next two to three months; I imagine the pub might play quite a large role in surviving this one.