shift /SHift/, v.

After a year of composing blog posts at my childhood desk back at home at my parents’ house, I have returned to my familiar, brother’s friend’s hand-me-down desk in Berkeley — in a new apartment!

Now, a week after I moved my life into this place, it both feels like home and not quite like home.

All of my belongings are here: the ones I collected during my time in college and used to decorate my apartment during my time as a student, as well as the ones I’d begun using (and re-using) when I moved back into my childhood bedroom. There are potentially fewer than eight new pieces of furniture and other daily-use belongings in this room, and this room is even laid out almost precisely like my childhood room at home.

And yet, it doesn’t quite feel right.

After graduating from college, it felt odd to move back home. Suburbia felt drastically different from the eclectic streets and somewhat ramshackle student apartments of Berkeley, and it was unusual to see my parents every day when I’d gotten used to only seeing them during school breaks.

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Photo by Courtney Cheng

It’s not uncommon for millennials to move home after graduation, but from my experiences and from the conversations I’ve had with my fellow millennials — it is a shiftLiving at home is, frankly, very different from the “independence” found at school.

That was a difficult transition for me.

It wasn’t that I’d lost my ability to go out late and party with my friends. (I don’t do that anyway, but I was given a general, sort-of curfew once I moved back home.) It was more that I’d gone from a place of great accessibility, both in regards to the proximity I had to my friends and public transportation to urban regions, to a town that was undeniably safer than Berkeley, but also one that many would agree was “land-locked.”

I felt isolated and somewhat like an afterthought because I was no longer a constant presence in my friends’ lives, so I made a much greater effort to go out of my way to see people. At the same time, I felt a renewed sense of duty and kinship toward my parents because saw them every day, but I didn’t always see them intentionally.

While I wanted to have the “freedom” to live my own life, I also wanted to spend time with my parents. Being at home shook me out of the naïveté college had instilled upon me that my parents, like me, were also getting older as time passed.

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Photo by Courtney Cheng

And at the same time that I was struggling with my conflicting desires, my parents were trying to figure out how to be the best parents they could be to an adult.

Finding a balance between these two sentiments — one that pushed me to constantly flee suburbia to seek out my friends elsewhere, and another that led me to the challenge of finding new ways to hang out at home with my parents as an adult — was, and is still, a struggle.

I’d like to think that over the year I spent at home, this balance was closer to being found. But now, a new shift has happened and the balance is disturbed again. I’m officially “moved out of the house.”

It’s only been a year since I was living in an apartment at Berkeley, but it already feels odd to not return home to my parents. Every night this past week, I caught myself looking at the clock whenever I was out at night, mentally calculating when I should head back home in hopes of not causing my parents to worry about my safety.

In my mom’s words, I’m only 30 minutes away from home — but I still cried anyway, as I was driving away. (And then, of course, my mom called about three minutes later, saying I’d forgotten my water bottle at home, so I had to drive back and get it, which pretty much took the awkward moment of goodbye to someone and then walking in the same direction for another block to a whole new level.)

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Photo by Courtney Cheng

As much as I’m happy to be moving on to this new stage of adulthood and growing up in my life, I do find myself missing my parents. I miss my dad’s silly jokes whenever he would walk past my door on the way up or down the stairs. I miss my mom’s excited cheers about the birds in our backyard or when she tried to flirt with my dad.

I miss seeing them every morning and every night and being their neighbor — which is why my new place still doesn’t quite feel like home. There’s a large part of me that’s still grappling with the fact that soon enough, my home might no longer be the same location where my parents live, and I only wish I’d realized this sooner.

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