Somewhere in the depths of my handbag is a set of keys. Whenever I pull them out they dangle brightly from the chain in front of my face, a glorious symbol of my hard-fought-for independence – a house of my own.
But it’s an independence I’m reluctant to accept. In fact these days I’m quite comfortable where I am, thank you very much.
It’s a statistic we’ve all heard. More adults are choosing to live at home with their parents than ever before. In fact, according to the 2006 census by the Australian Bureau of Statistics this number has reached a whopping 23 per cent of people aged 20 to 34 years old.
And to my surprise I’ve recently become one of them.
Years ago when I was barely out of my teens I took the leap into independence, packed up my few meagre possessions and moved into a rickety share house.
As I worked my way through university I used to amaze at this statistic, wondering curiously (and, I’ll admit it now, a little judgmentally) about those people who – for whatever reason – didn’t declare their independence, head out into the world on their own and put a roof over their own heads and their own food in the fridge.
I knew there were many reasons why they wouldn’t, or couldn’t, take that step, financial or employment difficulties being just the start, but when I received the keys to my first rental house I treated them like they were the keys to a shrine and took impish pride in the fact that while I may be eternally broke and living on baked beans and toast, to the disgust of my housemates, I was at least providing for myself.