I tell my parents I am not moving home after graduation. I can hear the silence screaming at the other end of the phone, my mother’s worst nightmares crashing through her head. This is it. This is how it will all end. I will throw away my education and settle for a mediocre job at a university that is less prestigious than the one I attended.
I try to calm her down. “Mom, this is what I’m doing. I’ve thought about it, and we’ve already looked at apartments, and it’s a done deal.” She is furious. We hang up. We are negotiating new territory. A curfew will not fix this.
They counteroffer. Come home, they say, and we will pay for you to rent an apartment nearby. Your own apartment, not in the house with us. Come home.
That isn’t home, I say, and it is the most hurtful thing I could utter, and I do it anyway because I need to cross that line, need to show them they are no longer in control, that the financial noose is lifted, I am free to do what I want, and this is what I choose.
They never really accept it. Every few months I receive a guilt-laden email from my dad, or a phone call from my mom or aunt, telling me how old he looks, how tired. The subtle message: It’s your fault. You’re driving him to an early grave.
I refuse to accept these pleas; they are not valid, ridden with Italian Catholic guilt. I am here because I choose to be here, with this guy, and when I finally do go home, that is my choice, too. I am in control, and things will be different forever from now on.
And they are.