Excerpted from an article originally published in the Weekly on Sept. 6, 2012.
Carmel’s Christian Pepe, a recent graduate of Loyola Marymount University, remembers a 10-day stretch of college where he didn’t sleep in his own bed once.
“I biked with all my stuff on my back and slept on my friends’ couches,” he says.
He would often go more than a week without talking with his parents. Now he touches base with his them every couple of hours, and works with them managing the family’s newest restaurant, Vesuvio.
“Lord knows what I could’ve been doing in college,” he says. “Now that I am home they want to know exactly what I am doing and where I am all the time.”
Aspiring entrepreneurs Ryan Hambley and Ben Holber have a tech startup success on their live-at-home hands – Yo Derm, their acne prescription website, won the Monterey Regional Business Plan Competition and launched its pilot program last month – but those hands are often occupied with chores assigned by their roommate parents. Hambley says he might be practicing a pitch for Silicon Valley investors and his dad tells him to take out the trash. Holber knows the feeling too.
“My parents usually come home in the evening and ask something like ‘Can you change the lightbulb? And then walk the dog?’” he says. “I am like, ‘Really? I’m in the zone, mom.’”
Holber didn’t plan on living with his folks. But he also didn’t plan on his vision for a startup website being represented at the Stanford Medicine X Conference – or his dad losing a leg.
Three years ago, Holber’s dad had a blood clot that eventually led to an amputation. And for Holber, it led to more responsibility.
“We take walks on the beach together,” Holber says. “He is more comfortable when I am there. He puts his toes in the water. He doesn’t do that on his own because if a wave comes up unexpectedly it could knock him down.”
When he first moved home, Holber couldn’t help but imagine what he could be doing instead.
“I felt like I was missing out, that this was not the best use of my time. I should be in a city trying to [launch a business] because I am 22.”
Now I can’t help but imagine the pressure he is feeling – not just to be successful in his business venture but to find time and energy to lend a hand to his parents. His situation provides a prism on my own: As I picture the real possibility of him having to dedicate more and more time to his family-home life – which means sacrificing time and energy that could be invested in his own development, his love life and being with his peer group – I can envision having to be there more for my folks. I’m already anxious that by living at home I’ve lost some of the life learning that comes with having to manage my own rent, finances and household responsibilities.
Then there’s the small-but-significant anxiety that whispers, “What if I never move out?” It’s not impossible, but it is terrifying. Then there’s the other ugly question: What if I can’t find a job? And my parents, as much as they allegedly like having me around, would be completely reasonable to question why they invested so much in my education.
Cal Poly grad Ashley Anderson of Salinas definitely didn’t plan on living with her parents after college.
“I left for L.A., saying, ‘Screw that, I am never moving home,’” she says. “I didn’t want to live in Salinas, where I knew everyone and I definitely didn’t want to work in ag. It was kinda gross.”
Only she tired of life in the entertainment industry in L.A. and moved home the week of her high school reunion.