People have shown sympathy to me for my having to move back in with my parents. Quelle horreur! I even received a phone call from someone making sure I hadn't "committed suicide" over the situation.
Okay, so it's not exactly ideal for a 24 year old to be living with her parents, but it's not that bad. It's certainly not as terrible an experience as the media seems to be making it out to be for people in my situation. I lived in, paid for, and maintained my own rented digs on the other side of the country for six years. I paid my own way to the landlord, to the gas company, and to the Council (because I was a part-time student for two years). The Council even owes me money because I overpaid! I'm only back home because after handing in my thesis, and uh, inter-railing around Slovakia and Ireland, I had no money left to pay the rent in my leafy student neighbourhood. I also have great parents.
My parents are incredibly understanding. This is partly because they were in my position during the late 1980s (I have young parents) and partly because I've proved myself to be a hard-working, independent individual under normal circumstances. In that context, getting free accommodation through the Parental Housing Association doesn't seem so bad, for now. It's not unconditional though. My part of the deal is to do my share of the housework, cook most of the dinners, and not use up too much hard drive space on the Sky Plus box. I also have to prove that I am applying for jobs, and I need to learn to drive.
So far I'm doing pretty well, except for recording lots of foreign movies on Sky Plus. I just bought some fabulous, cheap "nhs chic" glasses because I'm going blind in my old age and don't want to drive over sheep or into ravines while I'm learning to drive, so lessons will start soon. My parents enjoy not having to cook every night, and seem to be impressed with my culinary skills (I had a flatmate who worked in a greengrocer's so we all became pretty good at healthy, well-seasoned feasts; I also wholly recommend this book to anyone). So far, so good.
There are some downsides though. First, most of my friends are back in the city where I left them, and I can't meet up with them for a pot of tea or a pint at a moment's notice. Second, my parents live the country, so I can't just pop down to the local Spar at 4 in the morning for magazines and chocolates. Third, I don't know how long I'm going to be stationed here, or where I am going to next.
The last point isn't too much of an issue right now, and is part of what makes this whole experience kind of exciting. From here the only way is up, as long as I make sure there's enough space for my mum to record Project Runway.