On Paying Rent for the Very First Time

The day before I moved out of my parents’ home — for the second time, since I had moved out to go to college and then returned after graduation, like many other college grads who hadn’t found a place in the world to call their own so they borrowed their parents’ for a short while — I told my Dad about my intent to move out.

My relationship with my father was rather predictable. Every day, I came home from work and greeted him. He asked me how my day was. I replied. And then I went to my room, our daily obligation to interact satisfied.

Despite the dozen or so words that we shared with each other everyday, I felt the need to go beyond that limit and tell him that I planned to move out. I found myself filled with a sense of dread and anxiety. Would he be hurt that I moved out? Would he care that our daily interactions would cease to exist? Or would my second departure from my childhood home bring no reaction from him?

I think I was most afraid that he would not care. Because in my mind, that would mean that he did not care about me.

“Dad, I am moving out tomorrow.”

I stood at the entrance of the kitchen. He was pouring himself a cup of tea, his back turned to me. He did not turn around when I spoke.

Like a child dipping their toe into a pool to test the water, I pushed forward. “I don’t know if Mom mentioned, but yea, I found a place. And it’s closer to work. So I won’t be commuting long hours anymore.”

This was my primary motivation for leaving. The commute. There was also the lack of a social life, since most of my friends still lived in the city and I often found myself feeling lonely on the nights where I would be in my room and they would be out. There was also this boy, but that is another story altogether.

The moment stretched and then – to my relief – he spoke.

“It is your choice,” he said. His tone was solemn. “This is your life to live. I cannot make decisions for you, but I will always be here if you need to return home.”

I smiled. He smiled. He walked towards me and put his hand on my shoulder. A quick squeeze and then he returned to the living room, his lair.

We had excelled at our daily obligation to interact.

All Grown Up

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