I left Hong Kong for a break. Instead, I got stuck with my parents for months

New Zealand PM Jacinda Ardern's strategic pandemic response
It’s a bit humiliating, but not entirely surprising. For the past month, I have been in my childhood home in New Zealand on coronavirus locking – and it looks like I will be living with my parents for the foreseeable future.
Until recently, I lived in my own apartment in Hong Kong with a fiery cat and a large collection of potted plants. My interests were to go to the beach or have a drink in a pub.

Now my hobbies are a little different. Last weekend, I made five different types of bread. This weekend we have big walking plans.

For most of my adult life, I lived in different cities of my mother and father. After all these years of only staying in touch with intermittent phone calls for a month, my parents were essentially the only people I spoke to face to face.

At the end of January, as the coronavirus epidemic became more serious in mainland China, the CNN office in Hong Kong closed and I was asked to work from home. At first, I appreciated the novelty of wearing my pajamas at work meetings. But over the weeks, my 370-square-foot (34-square-meter) studio only shrank and the working days and weekends merged into each other.

So, in early March, I decided to work for two weeks at my parents’ home in New Zealand.

I left my cat with a volunteer friend and headed to New Zealand, which at the time had only a handful of cases. I had the vision of going to see my brother’s group playing and going out with my best friend. Although my parents are in their 60s, they are both fit and healthy, and we didn’t feel like we were putting them in danger.

A few days after my arrival, New Zealand imposed new restrictions. First, our Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced that everyone who entered the country should self-quarantine for 14 days, which means I have to stay at home. Then the government closed the borders to foreigners and urged Kiwis abroad Go home. After two weeks, my flight out of the country had been canceled and New Zealand was blocked. I thought I would stay put.
Living with parents as adults is common in many cultures, but for many Westerners it is considered an admission of failure. Like Anna Silman wrote in The Cut, “Going back to your parents’ home is usually a last resort option, like the can of beans you know you can still eat once the pantry is dry.”
However, adults around the world opt for extended stays with their parents. Some have lost their jobs, some are university students who have been sent home, some need additional emotional support.
A view of Wellington, New Zealand, during the national foreclosure of the country.
And as we head into a recession, many more may follow suit. Already around 15% of 25 to 35 year olds live with their parents in the United States. With millions of people already depositing unemployment benefits, many others may end up returning to live with their parents.
For some, it will be a challenge. Research suggests that young people who “boomeranged“Returning to their parents has seen an increase in depressive symptoms. Already, being stuck at home with parents is difficult for some. Last month, a 19-year-old student from the University of Delhi who lives with his parents said that even if the country is locked, he could not phone his boyfriend because he did not go out with his family.

For me, the challenges were more minor. There have been times – like when I was asked to tidy up my room – when I felt like I was going back in time.

New Zealand reported a decrease in new cases of coronavirus for the fourth consecutive day. Country further tightens border restrictions

But in many ways, it’s not like being a teenager again. All of this is completely new.

Mom takes walks in the neighborhood and reports on what everyone is doing. A WhatsApp group for our street that has been set up for the pandemic keeps us informed of all the latest news (“Gray warblers spotted outside”).

For the first time in my life, I became a sort of computer guru; When I presented my parents with Google Docs, they looked, pierced, as “Anonymous Otter” edited the file in real time. Like everyone on Instagram, I became consumed with cooking, so much so that I got mad at all the doughs that needed my attention and I finally gave up the responsibilities of the starter starter to mom.

Every day we listen to the always calm New Zealand director of health, Ashley Bloomfield, announcing the latest issues of coronavirus cases. In the evening, we often take out the daily newspaper and take the general quiz, a must in New Zealand office culture.

When my family recalls this tumultuous period, it is difficult to know what we will get out of it. Maybe we will just be relieved that it is over. But I hope we will see this as a time when we were able to learn to coexist as adults – a time when my parents were not only my mother and father, but also my co-workers.


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