It’s a milestone so common that it has become a Hollywood trope: The son packs his things, carries all those vestiges of his former life across the threshold of the front door and, with the unwavering encouragement of his parents, finally leaves their house to face the wider world.
It’s a little less common for that son to be 30 years old — and still less common for his parents’ “encouragement” to take the form of a court order.
But here we are.
Michael Rotondo, the man evicted after months of wrangling with his parents, complied Friday with the ruling that a county supreme court justice handed down last week. Local media report he left the house in Camillus, N.Y., just four hours before his high noon deadline to depart.
Then he came back to grab a few more things.
But he did leave again, this time with 2 1/2 hours to spare. And this time with the aging car that had become a focal point of the roughly half-dozen messages his parents wrote him before going to court. The hatchback got a little help from some jumper cables, and Rotondo offered the members of the media gathered outside a tasteful honk of the horn before leaving the block.
That honk lent a valedictory note to what had become a winding saga that NPR’s Bill Chappell recounted last week. First, in October, there were the informal discussions about leaving the house; then, beginning in February, there were the notes that escalated from a little financial motivation to formal orders to leave; and finally, after an original 30-day deadline lapsed, there was the confrontation in court.
Rotondo argued that he had the right to stick around awhile longer. His parents said it was time to go. And ultimately, Onondaga County Supreme Court Justice Donald Greenwood sided with Rotondo’s mother and father.
“You say you’re entitled to six months, which really seems to be kind of outrageous,” Greenwood said, “that somebody in this day and age could be in somebody else’s home with a six-month notice before they have to leave.”
Conclusive as it was, that decision didn’t quite resolve the friction. Shortly after the ruling was rendered, international media took notice — and so did the writers of think pieces and comment board diatribes everywhere. The word “millennial” got some good exercise. And sadly, other Michael Rotondos got caught in the crossfire — including one who also happens to hail from central New York, in Albany.
“Being from Upstate New York with the same spelling of the name, being the same age and basically, actually very coincidentally, happen to be looking for a place. It has been a crazy crazy ride,” the other Rotondo told CNYCentral on Thursday.
“I am not getting sued by my parents. I love my parents,” he said, adding once more for good measure: “Again I have not been sued by my parents.”
The week went no more smoothly for Rotondo or his parents, according to Syracuse.com. The publication reports that a stranger called him on the phone with just a single word — “loser” — before hanging up, prompting Rotondo to call 911. But it wasn’t the only 911 call placed this week by Rotondo, who reportedly lost the visitation rights to his own child last year:
“Rotondo said he called the cops because he believed his son’s Legos were in the basement and his dad — who is evicting him — wouldn’t let him look for them. Instead, the father offered to look for specific items and, if he found them, bring them out.
“Rotondo said that wasn’t good enough and called police. While the police were there, the Legos were located and there was no further incident.”
But that is all in the rear-view mirror. For now, Rotondo says he is “off to an Airbnb.”
“It’s great not to have to be here anymore,” he said told Syracuse.com outside his parents’ garage Thursday. Asked whether that marks a dramatic change in his thinking, given his recent hard-fought court battle, Rotondo answered succinctly.