A millennial's perspective on the 'boomerang generation'

  • Article by: EMILY CAIN , Special to the Star Tribune
  • Updated: August 27, 2013 - 3:35 PM

ESSAY: A St. Paul freelance writer — who also happens to be a boomerang kid and card-carrying millennial — sings the virtues of rooming with Mom.

When it comes to moving in with your parents as a young adult, I don’t know what all the fuss is about. If it’s good enough for Italian men, it’s good enough for me. In fact, if it were socially acceptable in the United States, I would still be living with my retired baby boomer-aged mother right now.

I’ve moved out, back home, out, back home and out again more times than I can count. And who knows, before I turn 30, maybe I’ll give it one more shot. After all, I’ve lived in far more questionable places with far less appealing people.

Maybe it’s different if you have two parents. I suppose they can gang up on you, and maybe sometimes do gross sex stuff when you’re at the house. But if you’re lucky enough to just have one parent, then really all you’re contending with is a roommate. And since roommates are generally putrid slobs unfit to be within arms reach of me — then a clean, quiet, blue-haired baby boomer is just what the doctor ordered.

With a card-carrying AARP member as a roommate, you’re guaranteed the following:

A clean sink. No more Froot Loops, oatmeal and other soggy food scraps clogging the drain. A baby boomer’s home has a dishwasher and garbage disposal.

Library-level quiet by 9 p.m. Retired individuals tend to like to wake up early — we’re talking 5 a.m. Something about the “sunrise” and “peacefulness.” I’ve never understood it. But what I do understand is waking up pre-dawn has a person yawning by 7 p.m. and fully conked out by 8:30. No 1 a.m. dance parties on weeknights where your drunk roommate and her friends are screaming the hipster anthem of 2012, “We Are Young,” at the top of their lungs. The baby boomer roommate is sound asleep well before the 10 o’clock news, leaving you time to read that pile of Chelsea Handler books on your nightstand, or entertain an evening guest.

A garage. Baby boomer homes are generally complete. This is to say, they have a garage and central air. Home ownership was a big deal to the baby boomer generation. Mine, not so much. The housing market is a black hole as far as I’m concerned, and besides, I can’t be bothered to mow a lawn or spend countless hours on the weekends repairing the latest part of my “investment” that’s now falling apart.

This is where living with a senior citizen has its advantages. Thanks to their hard work and fiscal responsibility, you’ve landed yourself not just off-street parking, but a whole two-car garage! Your ’03 Toyota Corolla will be sheltered safely from the elements while all those other suckers are plagued by the snow emergency car shuffle that lasts six months out of the year.

Closet respect. Living with a peer of the same gender, you often find yourself in the awkward predicament of being asked to share clothes. While it seems petty and materialistic, and very ­un-best-friend-y to not allow your roomie to borrow something special for that big job interview or special date, it’s pretty much the kiss of death for an otherwise happy friendship. Eventually they will spill red wine on your most prized and expensive J.Crew sweater, or maybe neglect the washing instructions (dry clean only) or leave it behind at their one-night stand’s apartment.

But with the baby boomer/parent/roommate, you rarely find yourself asking to borrow the parrot print tunic purchased specifically for “The Senior Prom” on her Florida vacation, nor does she have interest in your skinny jeans, high-heeled shoes or ill-purchased newsboy cap. No ruined clothing, no ex-best friends.

Snowbirding. The best thing any roommate can do is leave for six to eight weeks a year. I could live with Freddy Krueger if he split cable and Internet with me, and then left for two months. While your roommate named Mom is enjoying her pension in Tampa, you’re hosting dinner parties, enjoying a 60-inch TV and turning the heat up to 80.

Are you starting to come around? Twenty-somethings, make no mistake: Find a baby boomer/parent/roommate and hold on tight. Our post-college years were greeted by the most dismal economy in decades, and the job market has us trapped working as underemployed gophers — stuffing envelopes, running errands and crying at the post office.

If we must have roommates until we’re 35, and if we must have dead-end jobs just to make ends meet, might we at least have nice TVs and garages? It’s the American dream after all.

 

Emily Cain is a St. Paul-based freelance writer.

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