Two Steps Forward, One Step Back: Moving Across the Country and in With Your Mom

I’m 28 years old and living at my mom’s house. I haven’t lived with a parent since I moved from Maryland to New York six months after graduation, and I have always been proud of that fact. Even my older sister, then 26, had a brief stint living with my dad before moving to Seattle.

I had my sights set on New York since first reading Eloise as a child, and made it my mission to get there as quickly as possible. Fast forward five years of city living and I was driven out by financial struggle and bed bugs (more interconnected than you might realize). It wasn’t so much that I had “failed” New York City (let me have this), but my wallet was so depleted and my stress so high that I needed a reprieve, even for just a few months.

My mother had moved to the West Coast in 2007, when her then boyfriend (now husband) was encouraged to relocate to his company’s Long Beach office. I resented the West Coast for taking my mom and making me lose my childhood home, but would visit periodically. Moving out West was always in the back of my mind. When it felt urgent to leave New York, I saw California as my only real option to relax and save up some money. My dad’s house wasn’t a possibility (for complicated reasons relating to my stepmother), so I decided to drop everything I had going on in New York and move to Long Beach. Suffice it to say it was a really, really bittersweet, difficult decision.

Since arriving here in mid-February, I’ve been on the job hunt like a madwoman. My mother tells me there’s no rush, but it’s hard to be comfortable being a grown-ass woman eating your mom’s food and living in her house for very long. In some ways, it’s the most ideal situation I could imagine. I get up later than I care to admit, then spend the day applying for jobs, writing, and soaking up that sweet, sweet Californian sun. I definitely feel unemployed, but the drive to find work and be productive is keeping me from getting bored.

It’s a weird combination of feeling like I’m regressing and making real movement in my life and career. I haven’t made a ton of traditional career progress in my life, having focused more on doing the typical actor/barista thing. I haven’t turned my back on acting, but when you realize you’re 28 and are neither submitting for auditions nor making steps in the direction of a real career, it’s time to reevaluate. My focus is now on finding consistent, fulfilling work that can sustain me financially. It wasn’t until recently that I discovered where that sweet spot lay, and I’m now taking my time to make that happen.

Living with my mother allows me to be more thoughtful about my job search, and to not rush into something just because the rent has to be paid. I’ve never been able to afford this luxury, and do not take it for granted. I am so, so, so very lucky that this is even an option for me, and that it’s an option in a town with perfect weather year round. It also doesn’t hurt that I’m getting some assistance with cooking and laundry. I’ve started using a French press every day, so I’d say I’m doing pretty well.

Sarah duRivage-Jacobs is a writer and actor living in the Los Angeles area with her cat Jasper. She enjoys BBC Television, time travel, and being gifted mugs.

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