My father and I are sat eating breakfast, him perfunctorily perusing The Times, me subjecting myself to the less than edifying “journalism” of Good Morning Britain. Up beams the headline, “The Boomerang Generation: Should parents charge their adult children rent to live at home?”. Panic sets in – if I don’t change the channel before Piers Morgan asks a guest a question then proceeds to speak over them for the entire segment, my father’s attention will be caught by the topic and the seed of inspiration will have been sewn. My father will suggest it to my mother and next thing I know I’ll be coughing up my disposable income on a monthly basis in exchange for bed and board. The shackles of this unaffordable monthly overhead are exactly what I moved home to avoid – I cannot allow this suggestion to even register in my parents’ thoughts.
Creeping my hand stealthily to the remote control so as not to alarm my father, I keep one eye on him to ensure he has not stirred from his reading. Before I can complete the mission, Morgan brays: “these millennials do my head in, they get everything for nothing. How about we start instilling some good old-fashioned values and teach them what the real world’s like!” My father’s ears prick. Seized by the trepidation of my preordained, rent-stricken fate I watch helplessly as he turns his vision to the screen, his gaze held by Morgan’s hysterical vociferating. I watch on as my father consumes this monologue on how I, as a “boomerang” should “stop treating [my] parents’ house like a bloody hotel”. As I prepare myself mentally for the impending direct debit about to ravage my current account, my father opens his mouth to speak. I brace myself…
“That Piers Morgan doesn’t half chat some bollocks. It wouldn’t hurt you to turn the TV off and actually read a paper in the morning!”
He returns to The Times, tutting disdainfully. The relief. Oh, the relief!
I may (definitely) sound like a spoilt brat for not paying my parents rent. I am, after all, living in their house, showering merrily in the water they pay for, charging my iPhone three times a day with the electricity they purchase, and basking in the warmth of their central heating (although I have a well-founded suspicion that Dad’s turning it down when I’m not looking). I thank my lucky stars every single day that I have been able to move home for free, because I am wholeheartedly aware of what a privilege I’ve been afforded. The majority of my fellow Boomerangs have families who need a financial contribution if they are going to live under the same roof, which is wholly inevitable especially considering the current eye-watering cost of living. Before you hate on me too much, know that I do pay for my family’s food shop most weeks and, oddly enough, my parents seem to have a real craving for steak, scallops and vintage red wine on those weeks that I’m covering the bill. Funny that…
Boomeranging is a trope many Brits have experienced in the last decade; stepping even a foot on the housing ladder has been largely unattainable, rents have continued to soar, university degrees have been rendered near worthless in the jobs market and internships are by default unpaid, so swathes of twenty-somethings who had once flown the nest for pastures new have found themselves flocking home to their parents, avocados in one hand, student debt in the other. The term ‘Boomerang Generation’ was coined to describe those of us who have fallen victim to this all-too-common eventuality
I’m a proud Boomerang. I really enjoy living with my parents for so many reasons other than the financial security. Our dynamic has shifted from its previous state when I moved out at eighteen. While my Mum may still nag me to use a coaster with my drink, we do now live as three adults with a mutual respect for each other’s choices and privacy.
That said, there is a whole other angle to my Boomeranging – one which I did not foresee. Not only have I boomeranged back to my teens in terms of my living situation, I seem to have boomeranged back to my teenage self in a social context.
For one, I’m now Snapchatting again. I thought I’d left Snapchat in 2013 with my gladiator sandals and Dream Matte Mousse, but since moving home people are adding me on Snapchat – or simply “Snap” as it’s now casually dubbed. Never again did I think I would resolve to sneaking a peek at my crush’s Snapchat ‘Best Friends’ to identify my romantic rivals, and yet here I am screeching “who the hell is this BeckyD94?” while my parents try to drown me out with the 10 O’Clock News.
On the topic of romance, I am now finding myself boomeranging back to my teenage ways of dating guys simply on the basis that they have a car. Now that I’m living a £25 taxi ride out of town again, the offer of being picked up can be a real deciding factor as to whether or not I actually go on a date. In terms of convenience, a boy who can drive to my house out in the sticks to whisk me away in his Renault Clio still has the edge.
Perhaps the most surprising return of all is that of my teenage pub route. When you’ve cried into a bin, begging for the vomit to stop, wishing desperately that you’d given that last Cheeky Vimto a miss as the bouncer ejects you from the club with one swoop of the arm, you tend not to really want to revisit the scene of the crime. But with not much persuasion, I have been talked into revisiting my old Saturday night haunts on more than one occasion since Boomeranging home. When I left home at eighteen, I vowed from that moment on to only ever to go “proper” clubs, like Ministry of Sound or Amnesia…fast-forward five years and I’m back in the local dive yelling “THIS IS MY JAM” every time Destiny’s Child comes on. I may now be more attuned to my alcohol limit, but I’m certainly still a sucker for a spit and sawdust watering hole.
Indeed, my sixteen year old self is resurrecting herself in a multitude of forms: hoop earrings, hogging the landline to speak to my friends (there isn’t much 4G here in the sticks), crawling into bed with Mum to debrief her on my latest drama, making the most of a free house by simply watching Friends reruns with a Chinese on my lap…I’ve boomeranged hard. And I’m OK with that. Soon enough the next chapter of my life will present itself which will hopefully entail a step forward in a new and exciting direction. But for now, you’ll find me regaling my parents with tales of dates gone wrong as they politely feign the slightest bit of interest.