“We’d barely done anything.”
A pair of young newlyweds decided to skip the hassle of starting – let alone building – their careers, and instead moved more or less directly from university into a retirement home.
That was the conceit of a confessional penned by Lucy Huber for HuffPost on Wednesday. The writer recounted how her new husband, Matt, struggled to find work after finishing his doctorate in chemical biology. Meanwhile, she was working an entry-level job in a “small Midwestern town,” she said.
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The couple considered relocating to a city, where they would ostensibly have hustled to make ends meet while working their respective ways up the capitalist ladder. However, Huber dismissed this option as “nearly impossible” given their lack of savings.
“There was only one choice,” she determined. “We packed up our apartment and cats and drove 17 hours to the Dataw Island retirement community.”
Huber and hubby, both 29, moved into her elderly parents’ guest bedroom on the South Carolina campus, where she was proud to report, they had their very own bathroom.
The couple took to retired life, Huber said, watching “Wheel of Fortune,” going on long walks, crabbing, hosting her parents’ cocktail parties, and frequenting the gym. She said she enjoyed being “for the first time, “the youngest, hottest girl there.”
But after several months, and the coming and going of Huber’s 30th birthday, the charm wore thin and the septuagenarians started to talk.
“Word had gotten around,” Huber said. “We were the Hubers’ unemployed kids.”
The couple started to argue, Huber recounted. She suggested they pick a city and go into debt, but Matt wanted more time to find a gig.
Finally, they agreed on an adult path forward: a trip to Disney World.
At the theme park, surrounded by “giant cartoon characters,” Huber recalled confronting some hard truths.
“We said we were moving there because it was our only option, but that wasn’t entirely true. We could have gotten temporary jobs somewhere, figured it out,” she admitted. “Maybe it is obvious to everyone else, but retirement communities are for people who are, well, retired. They’ve done all the hard parts of life. We’d barely done anything.”
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The story has a happy ending: Matt was offered a job in Boston, and post-epiphany, Huber found the strength to accept living in the second-rate city of Boston, despite it having cold weather and unfamiliar people.
“It wasn’t the city I’d hoped for at first,” she said, bravely. “I thought maybe we should just keep waiting until something better came up. But it was time to take a risk. He said yes.”
As Huber seems at least partially aware, her essay can be read as an archetypal tale of millennial entitlement: Unable to find sufficiently fulfilling work, over-educated twenty-somethings opt for retirement sponsored by Baby Boomer parents.
That stereotype has a basis in fact. Whether for economic of cultural reasons, millennials really are staying in school and living with and relying on their parents longer than previous generations did. They are sympathetic to socialism, and what work they deign to do, they expect to be meaningful – perhaps because they’re less likely to be religious.