I am a Boomerang Kid: a millennial who, after living on her own (at college and beyond) for almost nine years, has ‘boomeranged’ back to her parent’s home. My reason was part financial, part personal. If I am being really honest, there is also a certain kind of ease to the boomerang lifestyle in which bills are paid and the washing machine doesn’t run on quarters. That is not to say moving back doesn’t come with its own challenges. In the years I have been away, my parents have moved around quite a bit too; thus, it was not my childhood home I came back to a year ago, nor my childhood town. My mom welcomed me back with gifts – candles, a new quilt, a few of my childhood books – but it took a few months for the empty white bedroom I moved into to truly feel my own. In the case of this new town, I am still adjusting, laying down new roots and creating a new network of people around me.
I encountered challenges in more surprising places too. I have found that my parents and I often butt heads in the kitchen. Mine and their eating habits have developed and diverged in the almost-decade I have been away, and we now face the challenge of once again sharing meals.
Lunchtime seems to be a sticky point, a meal I most often share with my mother. She prefers rye crackers and cheese eaten at 12.30 (not dissimilar to the primary school lunches of my youth); rye crackers and cheese are a starter for me nowadays. I prefer late lunches (3 o’clock onwards, ideally) where I go all out with salads, pastas, and soups. Frequently I spend a good bit of time in the kitchen, working on my go-to egg dish: eggs whisked with whole milk, slow cooked for ten minutes or more over very low heat until they form silky curds which I spoon up with bread, adding cracked black pepper or a salty grated cheese as I go. It is safe to say I have strayed somewhat from my primary school beginnings.
But the lunchtimes of my youth were a time to bond: I would come home from school on my bike, and my mom would be waiting at the table, the water cooker boiling for our tea. And this, it seems, has stayed a constant. Even now, I, the Boomerang Kid, look forward to sitting down for lunch and a good long chat with my mom. And for this chance to bond, I am even willing to compromise on my food choices.
Our lunchtime middle ground: grilled cheese sandwiches with salad for two, served at 1 o’clock. I walk a few paces down the road to our local bakery for rye bread, fresh from the oven and sliced for me by the baker’s mother, a chirpy grey-haired lady in her eighties; at home, I top it with strong Dutch cow’s cheese, and grill it in the frying pan with a big slab of butter. I plate salad leaves tossed with whatever is left in the fridge: some zippy radish sprouts, cherry tomatoes and good quality Italian olive oil. Served with tea and a mother-daughter heart-to-heart. After all, compromising on the little things shows a wordless appreciation for the luxury of being allowed back home as an adult.