Journal Archive > 2001 > September

You can go home again

As finals abruptly ended and the school year came to a screeching halt, the much-anticipated summer vacation finally arrived. And although on paper this event spans well over three months, in actuality, it is usually a mere week or two spent between the time the dorms are locked and June 1, when summer sublets in the Medford area become available.

A vast majority of Tufts students spend their summers either working hard to make money for the upcoming year or working at an internship to boost their resume experience. Many do both. Therefore, the few weeks of rest and vacation between the end of finals and the beginning of the work schedule serve as a perfect time to head home, see old high school friends, visit relatives and most important, mooch off your parents as much as possible.

There once was a time when I would refuse handouts of any kind from my parents. At age 15, I had my first part-time job at a bagel store and saw it as a way to loosen the leash my parents held on me. Of course, my only expenditures at the time included Doritos, Sublime CDs and the occasional tube of Clearasil. I felt strong and independent, and I was certain that if I needed to, I could easily support myself on the $40 a week that I was making.

Those memories are all in the past now as living in a house with seemingly dozens of monthly bills has made me appreciate the beauty of free handouts. Honestly, it’s not really cash that makes freeloading for a few weeks such a blissful time. It is the smaller things that make you realize how great your parents’ house is and how pathetically you have been living for the past year.

A prime example is laundry. When I came home, my car was overflowing with not just dirty, but funky clothes that had been piling up in my closet since Christmas break. Where most of these clothes came from, I haven’t a clue. But they were enough to fill five entire loads in the washing machine. And this was not the tiny machine at the local Laundromat, which only fits about two T-shirts and four socks for the hefty price of seven quarters. My mother also took it upon herself to fold all my clothes with a precision that rivaled those people at the Gap changing rooms who angrily yank the shirts out of your hand after your feeble attempt to refold them.

Then my mom asks what we would like for dinner. These were words that had not entered my ears in quite some time, and I honestly could not think of any foods outside of my four essential groups: mac and cheese, buffalo chicken calzones, Busch Light and barbecue sauce. Nevertheless, she pieced together a delectable meal that I probably would have hated back in high school because it had mushrooms in it, but now I savored it like it was the nectar of the gods. Having a refrigerator packed full of food is quite a refreshing sight after months of staring into the vast abyss of our apartment’s fridge, containing, at best, milk, butter and the disappointing results of our attempt to brew our own alcohol.

The most noticeable difference between my house in Medford and the one in Delaware is my mother’s uncanny ability to keep it clean. Possibly it is an X chromosome thing, or else I did not inherit the right genes, but I have never been able to keep a room neat and tidy for more than 10 minutes. In our defense, we did not have a working vacuum cleaner in our house at school since December due to an ill-fated accident where a caught sock caused the motor to catch fire. It is no wonder that every ant in the Boston metropolitan area wined and dined in our kitchen on a daily basis, despite our fervent efforts to teach them a lesson by dropping the little guys over our gas burner flames—which was quite entertaining. We also lacked a dustpan, so the only way we could “vacuum” the floor was to sweep the debris into an old snow shovel.

My annual freeloading trip at home was brief but not unappreciated. All of these small things add up and help me appreciate what my parents have given to me. Because they realized that unconditional love would not be reason enough for me to make the seven-hour journey home that often, they also recently ordered an extensive cable package with 12 different HBOs (one even has “The Sopranos” dubbed in Spanish), ESPN Classic and my new personal favorite, the Game Show Channel.

I guess parents do get wise with age.

Neil Taylor, a senior majoring in psychology, is wistfully remembering the good old days of free laundry, free food and the “Family Feud” being aired 24 hours a day.