Life In The Pleasure Palace

October 17, 2013

Life in the Pleasure Palace

Upper West Side, Manhattan

I’ve always had a plan for life after college: driving away, the campus fading from sight, I would put on Abbey Road and skip to “You Never Give Me Your Money.” There’s a line in that Beatles song that would perfectly sync up with the moment: “Out of college, money spent, see no future, pay no rent, all the money’s gone, nowhere to go.”

When I finally got the chance to live out this fantasy a few months ago, it wasn’t what like I imagined. I didn’t know how to drive; I never had any money to begin with; and I did have somewhere to go: Manhattan. John Lennon and Paul McCartney were right about one thing though — I’m not paying any rent.

When I first realized I’d be moving back in with my parents, I did what anyone would do: I booked a ticket to Southeast Asia. But after a few wonderful weeks of eating an astonishing range of noodles and praying to local deities for a studio apartment in the Village, I knew it was time to face my fears.

I’ve been living here for a while now, and you know what? It’s not bad. This apartment has it all. Zabar’s chocolate croissants for breakfast and a seemingly unlimited supply of Pellegrino. The laundry is fresh, the bathtubs are pristine and there’s even a treadmill and a TV with HBO. My parents must have worked thousands of unpaid internships to pay for all this! How can I complain? It’s not like the dismal job market has forced me to move back to Wasilla, Alaska.

But I can’t stay in this pleasure palace forever. I want to be a writer — to grow a beard someday and move to Queens, to sleep on the floor and let the cockroaches crawl into my ears and lay eggs in my brain.

In order to realize this dream, I keep a rigid schedule. From 10 a.m. to noon I work on my sitcom pilot. At noon I realize it’s not that funny. Then I begin scouring the Internet for actual jobs. Honestly I’m enjoying this whole job search thing, except for the part where no one ever responds. There are eight million people in this city; someone must have something for me to do, right? By 4 p.m. I’m not so sure.

I move on to devising get-rich-quick schemes. What if I offer to clean the spacious apartments that my friends in finance have moved into? And then I’ll rob them while they’re at work! That could be lucrative!

At 6 p.m. I watch “Game of Thrones.” At 7 it’s time to welcome home my benefactors. By 8 I’m jetting downtown on the 2 or 3 train to meet my friends and explore the hip neighborhoods they’ve moved to. The employed ones always pick up the tabs (especially if you run to the bathroom when the check comes).

Of course, my life isn’t all croissants and Pellegrino. Sometimes I’m concerned my parents are trying to push me out the door. A few days ago my mom e-mailed me a series of articles about the “boomerang generation”: young adults who move home and never become financially independent. Was that some kind of hint? Then during dinner, she said, “I would never have dreamed of going home after college. It’s amazing that this is a palatable option for you.” I apologized profusely for not hating her and Dad more.

Despite its many pleasures, I can’t help but think that home is like a parachute — it doesn’t stop the fall; it just stops it from killing you. When I start feeling down, I play “You Never Give Me Your Money.” There’s a line there I never paid attention to before, but which I now understand is the point of the whole song: “But oh that magic feeling, nowhere to go.” That feeling can be kind of nauseating, especially if it lasts longer than a year. For now though, it feels O.K.

— PETER WEINBERG graduated from Middlebury College in June.

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