Time and Tide

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According to the Pew Research Center, 36 percent of American adults ages 18 to 31 live with their parents. The Millennial generation has posted the highest such figure in more than four decades — in 1968, 32 percent of that age group lived at home.

I’m not here to lambast the young generation’s work ethic, or bemoan the flaccid job opportunities the economy affords them, or fret over the diminished returns on college investment or declining marriage rates. Instead, I’m here to commiserate: Because, though I’m hardly 31 anymore (more like 38), I am, as I write this, living with my parents.

It’s thankfully not as depressing a situation as a grown man living with his parents may seem — well, it’s depressing but for different reasons. Due to the polar vortex event of early January, my home suffered a frozen pipe event, which led to a burst pipe event, which resulted in a first-floor-got-deluged event, which necessitated a living-with-my-parents event. My wife and two kids packed up our can’t-live-without belongings (our dog, some clothes, and the Wii, essentially) and relocated east to Collierville.

This is uncharted territory for me: homeowner catastrophe. What I’m learning is that the millions of details that resulted from it have flooded all the compartments in my life — until I’m drowning in things to think about and flailing for air at 2:30 a.m. wondering which contractor or inspector is coming the next day.

The real lesson it has taught me is to not place too many expectations on what tomorrow looks like. The fall was insanely busy for me and my wife, with numerous work, school, and extracurricular deadlines and obligations — you know the feeling. But helping to get us through it was the knowledge that after the first of the year, things were going to slow way down.

We were shedding ourselves of a few big projects, and, boy, 2014 looked like the perfect analgesic for our tired brains and calendar books.

Alas, on January 7th, some single-digit temperatures had something else in mind. I no longer have to speculate what our house looks like with two inches of standing water in it. And so, here I sit at my parents’ house, my family seeking refuge rather than relaxing at home. Because the temps were so frigid, burst pipes and damage was widespread across the region. As I called water mitigation professionals, I was told numerous times that it would be days or even more than a week before anyone could come. Some people weren’t even taking calls any more, because they were already over capacity. A plumber told me they’d be working 18-hour days indefinitely.

I was immensely fortunate to get a plumber and water mitigation crew out in less than a week. The insurance adjuster told me I’m moving just in front of a big wave of insurance claims and construction work passing through the system. If I can keep the insurance/repair process moving for me with any kind of speed, I may be back in my house in three weeks to a month.

And at that time, I’ll sit in my comfy chair in my den, turn on an episode of The Sopranos, and finally enjoy the peace and quiet of a non-turbulent life.

Or not. Time will tell. 

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