In the middle of finishing up some homework the other day, I looked up from my laptop, across my room and in the mirror. I didn’t see the usual me. A female college freshman who still lives at home looked back at me and said, “You know, when your mom was your age, she had already had dorm life and two years of college experience, took care of all her own finances, and moved to Richmond by herself.”
Maybe because she grew up in the sixties and seventies and she was a little nonconformist
hipster hippie free spirit, but when you compare my momma’s early adulthood to mine, they are worlds apart despite us being 50% the same. My mom hopped around a couple of schools around North Carolina until she decided to move up here when she was nineteen, even beating her older brother to the River City, and has never left. She met my father when she was nineteen at Chiacco’s, a little Fan restaurant down the street from Benedictine. My mom always paid for her college tuition, room and board, rent, etc, and could pay for a year just from her summer work’s savings (Thanks inflation, collegiate capitalism, and Boards of Education).
I listen to stories of protests and social movements in her youth, and beg for the hippie movement to reoccur in 2014 while I finish a jar of Nutella and discover from a Buzzfeed quiz that I am 1970’s Free Spirit Barbie. She questions why there aren’t coffee houses with Saturday night shows like the ones she went to in high school, while I spend my weekends stalking middle school classmates on Facebook. I wear my long skirts and search online high and low for Grateful Dead shirts, enchanted with my mom’s paisley counterculture.
And I look at my nineteen year old self. I live with my mom, relying on her for a full fridge, laundry, a bed, car insurance, well a lot of things, but surely not college tuition, gas, books, or the silly things I find at Target and decided that I need. There’s no way I’m financially stable to pay for myself to live on my own or even with friends, and I can tell you a summer of two jobs can’t cover even a semester of VCU. I know like three boys but still have yet to find rich husband (I have eight more months of being nineteen at least to keep looking!). There’s certainly no way I’m leaving Richmond.
I can pretend all I want that I’m the one growing up in the 70’s, but that’s not going to change a thing. Times are changing and changing a lot. Millennials now are living at home post-graduation because it’s cheaper and can’t afford to move out on their own. Kids aren’t free to roam neighborhoods like my mom and her siblings did. Sheltered lives are on the rise. I don’t think I would just up and leave my family to go to another city (not just because everywhere else sucks), I just wouldn’t know how to do so. Let’s be honest here, I’d sit in my bed and cry about not knowing anyone and missing my mommy to eat Easter candy prematurely and watch Modern Family with.
So, what am I doing with myself anyway? Why haven’t I graduated high school early and have already been three different colleges like Mindy? Why don’t I do cool things like her and have awesome hippie musician friends (and later husband), hanging out with guitars in Monroe Park? Why don’t I spend my time protesting wars, listening to The Band, and being a member of counterculture society? Well, let’s take a deep breath and remember: even though I am pretty like my mom, we are two completely different people from different eras. There shouldn’t be any pressure. I don’t have to move to a magnificent city since she already did that. I certainly don’t have to find my husband now; my parents didn’t date until later anyway. We’re not the same person, so there’s no reason why I must be exactly like her. She blazed her trail when she was nineteen, and now it’s my turn to make my own. I love Momma Mindy, she’s the best, and maybe I should listen to her when she tells me to be my own person next time.
“Do not go where a path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail” -Ralph Waldo Emerson