Thursday, August 28, 2008

A Confession

I have a confession to make tonight:

I'm 27 years old, I live at home with my parents... and I love it.

When I graduated from college in 2003, I was home for about 2 months and then I moved out. I was sure I would never call this house "home" again. I moved into a house with one of my all-time best friends and her daughter. My future was full of possibilities and my head was full of dreams.

6 months after graduation, 3 things happened.

1. I started paying off my student loans
2. I finally had my first car (very own car, not one that my parents gave me in high school) and along with it, my very own car payment.
3. My credit card limit was raised.

I was working at the job where I had done an internship the summer before my senior year of college and I was still being paid like an intern. I remember that Labor Day, I bought a ton of Christmas presents at the Labor Day sales. Life was good before student loan payments and large credit card bills. In November, when the grace period ended, life was different. But I was managing.

A few months later it was time for me to move out of the house so I got my very first non-campus apartment. The complex wasn't great, but I loved the apartment. But being on my own instead of with a roommate came with a cost, literally. I had received a $2 raise but my bills had increased by $350 a month (and they slowly continued to rise as my credit card debt slowly began to grow). But being on my own was wonderful. Strange... you can't explain living alone... how it changes you in small, but sometimes significant ways, to someone who has never lived alone. I thought it would teach me about my strengths, but looking back I think it taught me more about my weaknesses. But being aware of one's weaknesses is a huge advantage, so I am grateful for the experience.

I lived there for a year until one of my other all-time best friends graduated from college and then we got an apartment together. This apartment was awesome! And my roommie was amazing! I was still in my home town but now 20 minutes or so from home. It was familiar, but felt new at the same time. I loved that neighborhood and I loved that apartment. I was living there when I started dating my fiance. If I drove by it today, I could still point out where my car was parked the first time Brett taped flowers around my windshield. I could show you the balcony where I served him homemade dinner on our six month anniversary.

But a nicer neighborhood came with a higher price tag, and gas prices were starting to rise. I was close to work but not super close to church, Brett's apartment or my parent's house so I was using a lot of gas. And by this time my credit card debt was starting to bother me. It wasn't out of control, but I wasn't making enough to pay it down in between instances of car trouble and shopping emergencies. I was 24, and worrying about bills was a part of my daily routine.

When my lease was up on that apartment my roomie was ready to be a home owner and was ready for some independence. So she moved into a town home and I moved into a house with a church friend who I love dearly. The rent situation improved but the distance from work increased and gas prices were higher and still climbing. My student loan payment increased because on the plan that I chose, it increased after a certain amount of time. I also got a new car which came with a higher payment. Money was tight and it was a constant stress in my life.

After 6 months of struggling in this house, Brett and I decided to be active about planning for our future. It was time for me to get my credit cards paid off so that I could start saving for a wedding. That is not something that could happen while I was paying rent on top of all of my other bills. It was the strangest thing... I had always said that I could never move back home. My parents always made sure that I knew I was welcome at home anytime. But I was adamant that I could never go back. It would feel like taking a step backwards and that would feel like failure to me. I didn't want to fail at being an adult. But then suddenly one day, it's like God pulled back the curtain and showed me what was behind door number 1. An opportunity to stop the constant worrying and make some progress on the bill front. That is the opportunity I saw, but what lay ahead was so much more than that. My parents were thrilled when I told them what I was thinking so two months later I moved home.

It has been a huge blessing to have some control over my bills, and although there have been enough bumps in the road to still leave me with some credit card debt going into my marriage, the blessings have been too numerous to count.

I have gotten the opportunity to know my parents as an adult. My mother truly is one of my best friends now. And I have grown immensely closer to my sister and niece who are also living at home as she prepares to get married soon. That has probably been the sweetest blessing... watching Madi grow up. She is so amazing and so beautiful and Melanie is an awesome mother!

I will forever carry the lessons with me that I have learned from this time at home. I am immensely thankful for every day that I have here. So my confession is not that I live it home... most of you knew that. My confession is that I love being here.

I had another confession to make that is much shorter, but I have gone on too long with my first confession and I am ready for bed. So there you go!

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