When I graduated college, I never imagined I would move back home with my family. I had dreamed about all of the new opportunities that would emerge as a college graduate. I pictured myself moving to a new city to work at a company I loved, and I even had a Pinterest board with ways I wanted to decorate my own apartment. But what I didn't expect after I graduated was the amount of uncertainty that accompanied everything I wanted to accomplish. I didn't have a job lined up for myself, and without a set plan, I knew I couldn't afford to stay in my college apartment. As much as moving home wasn't my first choice, I tried to look at the bright side of the situation. My hometown is in between two large cities, so job opportunities would be abundant, and I could save enough money to get the apartment and the decorations I really wanted. But the one thing I didn't plan for was the growth of my relationship with my family.
My family has always been close. Throughout my life, my friends have constantly told me how much they admire my family's relationship. We maintained this bond through family dinners and movie nights, but we also had family traditions that we did together, like apple picking, and a Christmas Eve-Eve trip to the city. When I was choosing a university, part of me wanted to move far away from my family to establish my independence, but I also didn't want to miss out on my younger siblings' big games or band recitals. When I earned an athletic scholarship to a university only an hour from home, it ended up being the perfect balance. I was able to live on my own, but still return home for big events, and some family traditions.
When I moved home, I immediately craved the freedom I had while I was in school, and wanted to do everything on my own. Luckily, my parents have always been trusting, and although I had rules and a curfew that I had to follow while I was in high school, now that I'm older, I can simply tell them where I am, or if I'm planning on being home that night. A few of my friends moved home as well, so I still get to go out with them for dinner and drinks. But while I'm at home, I maintain my independence by buying my own groceries, cooking most of my own meals, and cleaning up after myself.
I know these memories I make with them are irreplaceable, and I cherish every moment I get with them.
At first, it felt like nothing at home had changed. My parents were still working their respective jobs, and my grandparents (who have lived with my family since I was 10) were still in their spots on the couch watching the Filipino channel. But while my parents were away at work and my siblings were at school, I spent all day with my grandparents, which is something I hadn't done in years. They told me stories about their youth in the Philippines, how they met, and even stories I didn't really want to hear, like who their favorite exes were! More often though, we would listen to their favorite musicians while I helped them navigate their iPhones, and we even binged all of Netflix's Peaky Blinders together. I know these memories I make with them are irreplaceable, and I cherish every moment I get with them.
Of course, some things at home had changed in the four years that I was away at school. My grandparents were both going through various health problems, my sister was now in college, and my brother was starting high school. While I had spent the last four years FaceTiming my siblings, I'm now able to talk to one of them in person. My 15-year-old brother talks to me about his high school drama, and the girls he's crushing on, while I give my sister advice about taking classes she'll most enjoy. In college, I was occupied with my own school work and sport, but as the oldest sibling, being readily available to talk with my younger sister and brother about anything they need has fulfilled me in a way that I hadn't experienced before. I can draw from my own high school and college experiences to give them advice, and the three of us are closer than we have ever been. I do think it comes with age, but I still get to witness my brother's teenage angst, and how my parents deal with his behavior. Watching them argue with my brother makes me hope that I didn't act that way when I was fifteen, but my admiration for their patience with my brother has grown immensely, and I am more grateful for them than ever before.
Without my parents support, I wouldn't have had the opportunity to move home. But my parents have always been supportive, and allowed me to do what I thought was best for myself. Since I've been home, they've encouraged me to pursue my writing career, and I've watched them support my younger brother in his school marching band. When they bought him a new saxophone, they equated it to my club sport fees, like they had to defend themselves for their purchase. I was surprised because I knew that they were just doing what they did for me and my younger sister, and what they will continue to do for the three of us as our goals and dreams change. While I've been home, I've been able to focus solely on my writing, which is something my parents have always encouraged me to do. I moved home because I wasn't sure what exactly I wanted to do, and reestablishing my relationship with my family proved extremely beneficial in reminding me what I was passionate about.
The truth is that I dreaded moving back home, but I don't regret a thing!
The truth is that I dreaded moving back home, but I don't regret a thing! And now with the ongoing pandemic and social distancing procedures, I'm so thankful to spend more time with my family. My dad, who's an essential worker, still works his normal hours, but classes have been moved to online, so my siblings and my mother, who is a teacher, are home during the day. When my sister first came back from college, she was on her spring break, so we did a ton of binge-watching, or stayed up late playing Mario Kart. My dad is off on the weekends, so with everyone home we have family movie nights or game nights. Even though spring break is over, there isn't a set schedule that my siblings have to follow, so we still find ways to hang out, whether it's helping each other rearrange our rooms, or laying out by our pool. We've even started teaching each other new things, like playing the saxophone, and how to use Photoshop. When it is time for us to work, we have all picked a certain place in the house where we can work efficiently, and without each other's distractions. Each day is different, and sometimes the three of us will spend the whole day together, and others where we all meet downstairs in the evening to watch a movie. This is the most time we've spent together in years, and surprisingly, we haven't gotten sick of each other yet.
Of course, there is some tension because we're all itching to leave the house and see our friends, but I know how lucky I am to be safe and with a group of people that I love. We've all had our fair share of Zoom calls, and I've even joined my mom for virtual happy hour with her friends. I always knew that my relationship with my family was strong, but now in quarantine, I'm reminded just how fortunate I am to have this family bond. Although my plan is still to move out of my parent's house by the end of the year, I know now that nothing, even a pandemic, can come between my family and me. When this is over, I know that things will change, but for now we're focusing on our time together, and staying thankful for all of essential workers that continue to do their jobs.