Peter Carey was looking forward to his 40th birthday. The Miami club promoter had a new apartment, a new job and — after a bad breakup (he and his ex were on a reality show on Oprah’s OWN network) — a new lease on life. He wanted to celebrate in lavish style: out-of-town guests, a yacht, “you know, the whole Miami thing,” he tells The Post.
Then COVID-19 hit.
“Suddenly, the club was shut down, I wasn’t making money, and I couldn’t pay my rent,” Carey says. “I was like, ‘I’m gonna go home and check in on my parents.’ ”
Instead of partying on Miami Beach, Carey has spent the past 2 ½ weeks at his childhood home in Charlotte, NC, watching “The View” with his retired parents (who are in their 70s), running their errands and doing pushups in their guest-room suite in an effort to stay fit during the coronavirus lockdown.
When he does go out — even just to CVS — Mom and Dad monitor him: “We listen for when the garage door opens and closes,” his father, Phil, tells The Post on a family video chat.
Carey laughs. “The food is good, but this [was] not the way I intended on spending my 40th birthday,” he says.
In this era of social distancing, some families are getting closer than ever. As the coronavirus spreads throughout the country — as of Thursday, New York state has more than 37,250 cases, with the rate doubling about every three days — more and more empty-nesters are welcoming their college-aged and adult children back home. And there are growing pains.
Some of these adults moving back home — such as Haley Walker — wanted to shelter-in-place with more comfort and safety.
“You just never know what’s going to happen in the city with so many people around,” says the 24-year-old Walker, a senior product analyst at startup SquareFoot. “We wanted to get out and go somewhere more rural, and somewhere with a lot of space around us.”
So last week, Walker and her fiancé headed to Walker’s parents’ spacious house outside of Burlington, VT — where they joined Walker’s two younger sisters (one in high school and one newly arrived from Brown University), plus one of their significant others.
“When seven people are in a house that usually three people are in . . . things get messier,” says Walker. One evening, for example, all seven emerged from their rooms realizing that no one remembered to cook dinner.
‘When seven people are in a house that usually three people are in … things get messier.’
So mom Adele called an emergency family meeting — and began delegating chores and laying down rules.
“My husband was like, ‘Don’t let them walk all over you,’ because usually, when the kids come to visit, it will be for a holiday, so I’ll take care of everything,” says Adele, a director of finance at a local real estate company. Now, everyone has to pitch in, helping with laundry, cooking and cleaning. Adele posts everyone’s tasks for the day on the fridge.
Then there was the time that daughter Ty, a biology student at Brown, was constructing a replica of a fish mouth for her virtual lab in the middle of a common area.
“That was not pleasant,” says Adele. Now, “everyone has their own designated ‘office space,’ where they can do their work.”
Seth Gilgus had a smoother time transitioning from living with a roommate in a Williamsburg apartment to living once again with his parents in Kansas City, MO. The 26-year-old says that his parents — a lawyer and a retired nurse — have for the most part given him space to do his public-relations job from home, and he’s repaid them by cooking fancy dishes such as duck confit. Yet he does worry about getting too close to them. Just this week, the White House advised anyone who has left the NYC area to self-quarantine for 14 days, the time it supposedly takes the virus to run its course.
“I obviously seriously weighed the pros and cons of taking a flight,” says Gilgus, who arrived in Kansas City last Wednesday. “I had stayed to myself in my apartment for essentially a week at that point, and the airport and flight itself were pretty empty . . . I’m an only child — my parents continue to tell me that they would have been worried sick had I stayed in New York, so I think I made the right decision. But I do have to tell them I can’t hug them!”
“There are enormous benefits to living with family at this time, from access to healthy food to mental-health support,” says Dr. David Markenson, director of the Center for Disaster Medicine at New York Medical College. “But you have to be mindful that any time a group of people get together — family or not — there is a risk of transmission of disease. Especially for those who are elderly or who have chronic medical conditions.”
But some families — like the Corrigans — say that there’s no better way to ride out the health pandemic than with your loved ones. The clan, including sisters Laura (29), Ciara (23) and Nieve (21), as well as Laura’s new husband, Ryan, are all staying at their parents’ six-room “compound” in Forest Hills.
“We’ve always been close,” says Ciara, who works in p.r., and lives with Nieve, a ballerina, in Chelsea — six blocks away from Laura and Ryan. “But this has really brought us closer.”
“We have our walk that we do as a family that we look forward to every day. And the other day we watched ‘Little Women,’ ” says Laura. “We’d rather be together all under the same roof than alone and a few miles apart.”
Mom Cathy agrees, for now. “It’s been great,” she says. “But check in on us in two weeks!”
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