Leaving Home For The First Time: How’d It Go For You?

leaving homeToney took the older boy to Shippensburg University on Friday, so he could sign up for his classes and go through orientation, etc. It was an all-day event, starting at 7:30 in the morning. Which meant they had to leave our house around 4:30… He worked until almost midnight on Thursday, and they were both operating on not much sleep.

And, for whatever reason, it hit them hard. It’s beginning to feel uncomfortably real. Everything’s all shiny and exciting when it’s six months away. But when it’s right around the corner, shit can get scary. Plus, fatigue often makes a person put a negative spin on things. Ya  know?

It’ll be tough on all four of us, at least for a while. It might even be hard on our dog Andy, aka Colonel Barkley. The older boy is his favorite food-begging target, on account of him being such a soft touch.

There’s also a really nice girlfriend in the picture, and that adds an additional layer of pressure and confusion to the mix. Who knows what’ll happen there? Plus, the boy’s never lived away from us, for more than a couple of days. It’ll be weird to walk past his room and not hear him in there playing guitar, and/or blasting the White Stripes. Hell, I’m getting a lump in my throat, just thinking about it.

I know it’ll be good for him, in the long run. But there are emotions involved. People shouldn’t allow them to rule their lives, but emotions DO exist. And they’re gonna be raging for a few weeks.

Today I’d like to talk with you guys about leaving home for the first time. How was it for you? After I get finished blathering on, please share your stories in the comments section below. Was it difficult, a relief, or something else entirely? I’d like to know all about it.

I was 22, almost 23, when I finally gave my parents a break and left home. I moved to Greensboro, NC under emotional duress. I had nothing going on, and my girlfriend was almost finished with college. I had to do something dramatic. I was scared to death, but felt like I had no other options.

A co-worker from the shitty convenience store I’d been working at moved down there with me, and we became roommates. It was OK. He was a nice guy (who unfortunately passed away a few years ago). But almost immediately he started missing his girlfriend, and lapsed into a perma-mope.

Next thing you know, she’s living with us. They got married, and she moved in! I don’t remember too much discussion about it, I think he basically just informed me what was going to happen. And talk about feeling like the odd man out… Newlyweds, and my dumb ass? Simply fantastic.

I went through some mopiness myself, especially on my first Thanksgiving away. My roommate was back in West Virginia, and I was stuck in Greensboro, not knowing anyone. I went to Shoney’s for dinner, amongst dozens of smiling and laughing families. Me? A table for one, please. And do you offer a dark, crushing sadness discount?

The waitress tried to pressure me into eating a slice of pumpkin pie, which I don’t like. She went on and on about it, telling me it came with the meal and everything. Finally I snapped. “I don’t want the pie,” I told her, through Jack Nicholson clenched-teeth. And she backed away, with a “WTF??” expression on her face.

My mother and grandmother knew I don’t like pumpkin pie. The fact that this pushy bitch was hammering me about it just drove home the fact that she didn’t know me. I should be with my family today, with folks who are up to speed on my dessert preferences. Not some anonymous pie-pusher with too much lip gloss.

Of course, it got better. Within six months I knew I’d made the right decision, leaving home. The girlfriend and I didn’t make it, but that’s OK. All that hard stuff I had to endure as a result of the move caused me to grow up a bit, increased my confidence, and made me tougher. There were no downsides, whatsoever.

Toney’s story is completely different. I stayed home as long as possible, and she bolted at the first opportunity. I mean, her mother is a certified crazy woman… so it’s understandable. But it still required a lot of courage. She downplays it, but I think what she did was pretty amazing.

As soon as she graduated high school she looked at a map, in search of a large city – far away from her hometown of Reno. She settled on Atlanta, sold her car, and moved there. She was 18, and had no plan. She knew nobody, and had never been to the east coast. She just wanted to put as many miles as possible between her and her insane family, without leaving the continental U.S.

She ended up going to school there, and working at Warner-Elektra-Atlantic – where I wooed her with my charms and Peter Brady hair. Heh.

And now it’s your turn. Under what circumstances did you first leave home? Was it difficult? Please tell us your story.

And I’ll see you guys again on Thursday.

Have a great day!

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  1. revashane says

    Hello?? Is anybody here?

  2. Westersteve says

    I left the parents house at 20 yrs old when I got married. I had been paying room and board ever since my high school graduation (’78). It ended up being cheaper being married than paying the parents. My brothers and sisters had to do the same so mom and dad were living the good life for about 6 or 7 years. My college time was still years in the future as we began to have a brood of children so my readjustment period was non-existent .

  3. Brenda Love says

    Went to school for awhile, then came home and promptly left again. I lucked out renting my own apartment from an old man who just wasn’t charging what he could have gotten for rent. Never went back home.

  4. I lived at home through college, so leaving at age 22 (after a broken engagement) was traumatic. I was scared out of my wits; fueled by my mom’s insistence that I could never make it without her by my side. Luckily, she was totally wrong, and I had a good job and 10 months later – a husband (to whom I am still married, and it will be 50 years in July.)

    When my oldest child left home to go to college, I cried as we left him at the dorm. My husband asked why, since he was only 30 miles away from us, and I said “Nothing in our lives will ever be the same again,” and I was right. It’s a necessary change, though, and good for your son. Hang in there, dad.

  5. Went to college at the normal time, and considered myself ‘gone’ from home at that point. Three years later, when I opted to work at school over the summer and ha to rent a place and really, truly, take care of myself, I know how wrong that initial assessment was. The FINAL transition was after undergrad, when I got a job at the grad school AND a bar (I got bored easily) and had to pay all the bills, all the time. It’s a process, for sure, an a sudden transition is not for the fainthearted!

  6. When I was 18, I left home for college. I was from suburban New Jersey, and I headed off to Atlanta for school. It was a pretty big leap emotionally, and I didn’t realize how tough it would be for me to leave behind everything and everyone that I knew.

    But things worked out fine… 16 years later, Atlanta is still home for me. The last two years were a rough ride, and it would have been nice to live near family during that time… but life has finally smoothed out in the last few months, and I’m definitely in a better place after surviving everything. Sometimes you need to just grit your teeth and keep moving forward.

  7. Erica in Charlotte says

    Hang in there, Jeff. It must be somewhat reassuring to see him apprehensive about leaving your home. That shows you and Toney made a good home for him, and did something right! Your kids are growing up to be amazing adults, and they’ll come back around often enough. I say this as someone living with a 16 y.o. and there are days I can’t wait for him to move out. By the time he turns 18, he’ll have mellowed and I’ll feel like you – wishing it could last a little longer. But as Kenju said above, I sometimes get sad, thinking about him moving away, because nothing will ever be the same. We have two kids, and once he’s gone… I don’t know. We only get a few years as The Family of Four, and then it’s over. But of course, that’s right where you are. Yeah, I got nothin’.

    I lived at home til I was 21. I went to college for a few years (driving distance) but my heart wasn’t really in it. No, I opted for that big career as a shift manager at Sound Warehouse, you know. I met my husband there, though!

    Moved out of the house with two roommates when I was 21, with no regrets or hesitation. A BIT of nervousness about paying my own bills, but that was it. My mom might have clung to me but she was getting remarried, so it all lined up just right. As things do. 🙂

  8. Steve in WV says

    Sadly, I have never lived more than 45 minutes from my parents house. It’s not like I planned it that way, through, its just the way my life evolved. I moved out with my high school sweet heart when I was 19 (we are still married). Both of us attended MU and needed a shorter commute to school. Plus I worked in Huntington so I was making two commutes per day to school and work. I have been employed in the area ever since, so there hasn’t been a reason to move away.

    I have no regrets but some days, I wonder what would have happened if I had moved away at 18 or 19 and attended college at least a few hours from home. I believe my life would have been much different (better or worse?).

  9. Lucie in Tampa says

    Moved out the first time @ 16 for about 6 months, found it hard working a full time job & full time student. so I moved back in with Mom. moved back home with Dad & as soon as I graduated (17) I was gone again, loved that place… Party house for sure, then Mom needed me, so back to Florida I came & I got my place, Mom moved in with me & stayed for a few years. I have been struggling on my own ever since….

  10. I lived at home all through college and didn’t move out until I was just about to turn 23. I lived in a rat-hole of a duplex overseen by the most notorious slumlord in that particular town, but I managed to improve the place a bit with cleaning and a box of stick-on floor tiles for the kitchen. I got a cat and then another cat to keep the first cat company.

    I met my eventual husband, he moved in with me almost immediately, and we moved around the area for a couple of years before we bought the house where we still live today. I never had to fall back on the parents for lodging except for a short span (maybe a month) between getting booted out of a condo we were subletting and closing on our house.

  11. First, leaving home was a bit of a relief. Changed my relationship with my parents for the better, as they didn’t have to worry as much.

    Second, and more importantly, I’m rather happy with the font on our new site.

  12. Ron form PA says

    I was the consummate asshole kid. Only thinking about myself. I was 19. My Grandfather lived next door and could not be left alone for long periods of time. My mom and dad wanted to go out and asked me if I would watch him for the evening. I said no problem and as soon as they left I was out the door to find some teenage girl’s legs to crawl into or get high. They came home, I wasn’t there, Dad said this is the last straw get the fuck out!! Can’t blame him or mom. I was a dick and totally irresponsible. Gramps was un harmed and fine. Anyway, best thing they could have ever done. I smartened up, got a real job, a shitty 1 room efficiency and went on with my life. Couple months later I apologized and thanked them for doing what they did. As I probably would still be floundering in a small one horse town in CT selling used cars or something crappy like that.

  13. moved out at 18 to a crappy trailer to be with my gf. good times.it sucked. I was back home in months.

  14. I did the standard “go away to college at 18 (17+, really)” and except for 2 summers during college and a 3 month stint right after graduation until my first “real job” started, I have been out of my parents’ house ever since. I went to school about 2.5 hours away from home which, for me, was about the perfect distance. Close enough to get home for holidays, school breaks, etc., but far enough to where I got a pretty good taste of being on my own. Although in hindsight I came to realize how much of the bill my parents were still footing.

    I was lucky I suppose…I’ve always gotten along well with my parents and brothers, so I never felt like I just HAD to get out, but at the same time my parents did a great job of encouraging me to be my own man while always knowing that they were never too far away. They definitely offered plenty of support (financial and otherwise) until I could get on my own two feet and be a real grown up.

    After a series of job/grad school related moves that were never more than about 3 hours from home, I’m now happily married, living about a 4.5 hour drive from my hometown. Both parents are still alive and relatively healthy and I get to see them fairly often, usually every 2-3 months for a long weekend or so. Again, I guess I consider myself one of the lucky ones.

  15. Lew in Bama says

    I’ve never lived more than 10 miles from my parents. Even now, my husband and I live less than 10 minutes from my dad and his wife.
    In my early 20’s, I moved every 6-9 months… my parents house was like home base and I lived there a few months at a time in between apartments and roommates. Moved out the first time at 19-20 to an apartment across town. I was working full time and going to school full time. It was fun, but I got pretty deep in debt pretty fast.
    Moved back home after about 9 months, stayed for a year, back out to a shithole duplex in the same neighborhood for 6 months, then moved back home. Thus started the pattern of in and out of their house. Once my mom got sick in 2003, and we had to have care-takers, I knew I’d lost my home-base safety net and was going to have to make it work for good out in the real world. I never moved back home again. Mom passed, a few years later dad re-married and moved about 5 miles down the road and up the mountain. For 4-5 years I rented a house with a roommate in their old neighborhood, then I got really brave and bought a house in a neighboring city. Got laid off from my job, sold the house for a loss, and rented another house in my parents old neighborhood.
    I recently got married moved into my husbands house…which is also in my parents old neighborhood.
    My husband grew up in Orlando, went to college in Auburn, and now lives in North Alabama. He hasn’t lived close to his family since 1996. Part of me feels bad, I can’t imagine being that far from my family for so long, but at least my family has welcomed him in. If he ever decides he wants to move closer to them, I’ve told him I’m ready to go. I’ve spent 38 years within ear-shot of a majority of my family, it’s time to go somewhere new.

  16. Left for college roughly the day after my 18th birthday. I had a girlfriend back home that was a mistake. I missed out on some debauchery but made up for it later on.
    I co-opped at Delta in Atlanta which was quite a transition from Cincy. I was there during the build up and aftermath of the olympics. I met some good people there and then some good people through those people. Glad I lived there.
    I haven’t lived there in almost 20 years. I love going home though (this past weekend). I can just relax and do nothing there. I do nothing here, but can’t relax.

  17. This is a test. This only a test. Just seeing if my gravatar works.

  18. We had both kids leave the family home within 6 weeks of each other, one to go to university, the other a job in a town about an hour away. The first couple of months were kinda weird, you spend your whole adult life revolving around the kids, they leave and you question your value and purpose as a person. Once that passes, it’s way cool. You get used to it real fast. It’s funny too, because as quickly as they want to leave, after a while they actually want to be around you. Which is fine as long as it is for a time limited visit.

  19. madz1962 says

    My best friend and I got an apartment when we were 24. But after 2 years my friend came home one day and announced she bought a house. So I did move back home for a couple of years (paid rent, bought all the groceries) and then I found another apartment which, coincidentally, my parents had to move in for a few weeks when they sold their house. It was all good – I was close enough to home so I was always dropping in on them. My transition was great. As one of 6 kids with no privacy, I relished living on my own.

  20. squawvalleyskip says

    At the age of 17, 8 days after high school graduation, I was on an airplane bound for Fort Leonard Wood, Mo. The army doesn’t give 17 year olds much time to think about anything they don’t tell you to think about in basic training. That made leaving easier, I suppose. I never really lived back home, though I did drop in for short periods of time. Been pretty much away from the area where I grew up for over 40 years. There was about a 10 year or maybe more span that I didn’t even make it back to visit. Now I live more than half a country away, but I get back once every couple years. My brothers still live back there. They left for a while and returned. I just never made it back. My 18 year old granddaughter is going away to college in August. She’s excited and scared at the same time. So are my daughter and son-in-law, and the 16 year old sister. And me, too, truth be told.

  21. Doesn’t “leaving home for the first time” imply leaving again, after returning, and leaving (again), return, leave…

    19. University. Had a whale of a time, didn’t miss my parents really, they’ve never said they missed me.

    “If you’re raising them to leave you’re raising them right”.

    • Ron from Pa says

      “If you’re raising them to leave you’re raising them right”.
      WOW! Never looked at that way. My kids are the same dicks to me as I was to my mom and dad. (although, shortly after my douchery, I apologized & continued to have a great relationship with them for the rest of their lives) Both brats are doing well. So I guess I can take some solace in knowing that, even though they are not part of my life, I raised them to be successful and independent. I guess that has to count for something.

  22. Jerry in Wv says

    Got married 6 days after my 18th birthday. Moved across town. Short time later signed up to fight the commie bastards and spent the next 6 years in various places around the USA while in the USAF. Most of those six years were spent underground wondering when nukes were going to fly. Still married to the same beautiful woman, 33 years later.

  23. I sort of oozed into the whole leaving-home thing. I left for college at age 18, but I had a couple of sleep-away summer camp trips under my belt by then, so it wasn’t a “first time” experience. Went “home” the first two summers, and after that I was out for good.

    At one point during college I had my own place (including rent and bills) and a co-op job at DEC. It was a worthwhile taste of Real Life, and I’m glad to have had that experience.

  24. shinywilly says

    Left home at 17, My folks were happy to see me go. My Dad even bought me pots & pans so that I wouldn’t go home to eat!

  25. I got married right out of high school and went to business college. Finished that and went to work as a legal secretary. I never really had time to think about the transition as I was so busy going to business school, working at a job and “keeping house”. Only years later, when my Mom was really sick (cancer) and we had moved away about 7 hours from the area, did I realize how much I missed my folks. It was especially difficult when Mom was terribly sick and I would need to go home to take care of her and Dad for a week or so (usually involved putting Mom in the hospital for a while). Mom died about 3 years after we moved and my marriage went on the rocks about the same time. It was strange living so far from what I had considered home but I somehow knew I could never go back. Also, I didn’t want to take my 3 year old son too far from his Dad; he really loved his Dad a lot. I still live in the same damn town (Memphis) and my son lives in Atlanta and is happy there. I guess what really sums it up is that I was never a “kid” after I hit about 16. I was always responsible and mature (boring, I know) and just kept plugging along to make a living. Never remarried (came close a couple of times and chickened out) and now I’m retired, still single (which I love) and at times I sit and regret that all I ever did was work, work, work. I regret that I never took any really nice vacations but I was so money conscious I probably wouldn’t have anyway. Basically, I am content with my lifestyle; just wish I lived a little closer to my son. I would be nice to have him over for dinner every now and then.

  26. I moved out when I was 24. A friend of mine found a small 2 bedroom cottage for $200 a month. Every month I wrote him a check for the rent and my half of the utilities. I don’t remember for sure how long we lived there, less than a year for sure when the phone rings and it’s the landlord reminding us we need to be gone by the end of the month. When I asked her why, she snorted something along the lines of not paying the rent, I tried to explain that I paid my friend my half and couldn’t believe he wasn’t paying her. She didn’t much want to hear my story.

    “Wanna tell you a story,
    About the house-man blues
    I come home one Friday,
    Had to tell the landlady I done lost my job
    She said that don’t confront me,
    Long as I get my money next Friday
    Now next Friday come I didn’t get the rent,
    And out the door I went”

    Worst part, I loved living away from home so bad I moved into another place with the same friend. Long story but he didn’t know I knew we got booted and I lived with him for a year then found my own place.

  27. I got a blowjob the day when I left home. I then proceeded to have more sex over the subsequent 12 months than I have probably had since. I’d give leaving home a solid A.

    The recruiter brought me, another guy, and some girl to the MEPS station in Shreveport and we stayed at some contracted hotel. We played cards and the other two started screwin’. When they were done the girl and I went to the bathroom and she blew me.

    Then I went to basic training for 10 weeks. The DLI, where legend has it, the cement eagle statue will come to life and fly out over the Pacific Ocean if anybody ever leaves a virgin.

    After all the training I went back home for about a month before moving to Baton Rouge to go to LSU. Within a matter of weeks I was sent to Afghanistan.

    Even the initial decision to leave home was mine, the following 2 or so years I was really just swept up in the current of a couple new wars and the gravy train of employment that came with that.

  28. Lori in Cbus says

    I graduated 6 months early in 87 and by April 1st, I got off the bus at Lackland AFB.. I wished it was a joke, but didn’t take long to get the hang of the game. I was the youngest at 17 in the group and I was the one who picked the dumbest job..Bomb Disposal technician. I ended up going into Avionics electronics so I count myself lucky now.
    I couldn’t wait to leave home.. been on my own ever since.

  29. In 1979 I finished high school, stayed at my parent’s farm for the summer then went to MCRD Parris Island in October.
    Boot camp was a crash course in responsibility.
    The Marine Corps took care of my lodging for the next four years.
    Despite being from the Right Coast and applying for duty stations there I found myself attached to a squadron based out of Kanehoe Bay, Hawaii. That is one of the most beautiful flight lines I’ve seen.

  30. Jazzbone Swirly says

    I’m gonna leave home one of these days. Just see if I don’t.

  31. benwvu09 says

    I grew up just outside of Charleston in wonderful Boone County, WV. I left home at 18 for Morgantown and never returned home for more than a weekend to beg for money and do my laundry, ah hem, spend time with my family. It was really hard for me and my parents since I’m the baby of the family, especially during the big move-in weekend. The “Thank You WVU Dads for Your Daughters” spray-painted white sheet on Grant Ave helped my transition tremendously as that sign reminded me of all the Natty Light-fueled potential one-night stands I could be having in the near future. To my parents that sign was a realization that their last born was going to become a binge-drinking, hard-partying, frat boy dumb ass in just a few weeks and came as a smack in the face.

    My mom definitely took it the hardest, especially the first few weeks I was there. She called me about everyday which was fine with me because I needed the reassurance that I wasn’t going to fail out and end up in their basement for the rest of my life. As the first semester went by things became much easier though, I think my parents where actually happy that I had left the nest when I came home for Christmas.

    After completing 4.5 years at WVU (by the grace of God), I decided I needed a change and that I hated winter so I moved to Tampa, FL for grad school. This was a lot harder for my parents. I was completely by myself and didn’t know a soul any where close to Tampa. My mom called again everyday for weeks to make sure I was alive and well fed. They eventually came to terms with the fact that I was a flight away now and even came to visit often (my mom despised Morgantown so there wasn’t a lot of weekend visits in undergrad). The move to FL was the best thing that ever happened to me, I needed to grow the hell up. I thank God everyday that I have parents that I do, God only knows where I would have ended up without the words of encouragement and occasional boot in the ass.

    I’ve been reading your stories for a couple years and think your son will be just fine. Just make sure to check his grades, like physically log on to his school account and check them, I sure wish my parents would have done that and not believed my bullshit.

  32. aileen in jackson ms says

    I left for college to UGA, a whopping hour away from my home in Atlanta, when I was 18, much to my parents’ objections. To one-up my rebellion, my contractor dad just found construction jobs near me. At 21 I got married, transferred to CU Boulder, and my husband and I haven’t stopped moving since. About every 3 years, I’d say.

    I don’t know what I’m running from, or running to, but I always end up back at the parents’ one way or another. And they still, at my ripe old age of 41, do my laundry, buy me dinner and slip me some money, so have I ever really left? Ugh. This is a weird tangent.

    From my limited point of view into your life, you and Toney have done a good job. Be proud he’s moving on. Then again, mine are 14 and 10, we’ll see what I say when it’s their turns.

    • If your parents lose track of you, you’ll still never escape from the alumni association.

  33. Jeannette says

    I grew up in Southern Maryland and, though I tried like hell to get my folks to let me go to school on the west coast, they would only let me go so far as Florida. So naturally I went to the southwestern tip of the state. The school, FGCU, was so new that we didn’t even have a basketball team (which is precisely what put that school on the map recently).

    I was crazy excited to go, despite being “in love” with a boy there in MD. My parents seemed to be okay with me leaving home…just the appropriate level of sadness, I’d say.

    I did exactly what they were afraid I’d do…I pierced some parts of my body, got a tramp-stamp, broke up with the sweet, country-singing boyfriend & basically went a tad wild for a minute.

    I always knew I’d never go back home to live. There’s nothing wrong, per se, with where I grew up…it just felt so small and suffocating. I’ve since moved to Dallas, Vegas & San Diego and am about to trek it back to SW Florida with my own little family. Put down some roots…be responsible adults, blah, blah, blah.