Skip to content

Excerpt From A Different Life: Growing Up Learning Disabled and Other Adventures

Excerpt from A Different Life: Growing Up Learning Disabled and Other Adventures by Quinn Bradlee.

After I left the New York Film Academy, I lived at home in Georgetown for a while. In September 2007, I moved into the house next door to my parents’ house with a bunch of roommates. I live in my own place, but I’m literally next door to my parents’ house and can go there whenever I want. Sometimes the free food is kind of tough to skip.

But it’s more than that. The only way for me to truly be independent is to live on my own. I fantasize a lot about moving to California, or someplace like that, where I’d be able to surf all the time. I’d be away from my parents, which I’ve never really been before, with a few exceptions. But then I wonder if I could handle that. I don’t really know. Maybe a small transition, out of their house and into the house next door, is what I actually needed.

I think everybody knows it’s going to take a little bit of extra time for me. I can’t just be independent all of a sudden. Part of it is because of my disability, but the truth is that nobody ever really taught me the skills I would need to be independent. My mom wants me to be independent, but then she’s afraid for me. I’ve relied on her for everything for so long that it’s hard to just stop. When somebody has been taking care of you for most of your life, it’s hard to break away.

In some ways, my life has been the opposite of most kids’. Because I was so sick, I was much closer to my parents in my early years, because I had to be. And now I’m just breaking off from my parents at 26, which is a time when a lot of other kids are just starting to come back.

As far as true independence from my parents goes, my dad’s not really the issue. He gives me sh** about money, or some dad stuff about how I should be working harder. He sometimes thinks the ideas I have are unrealistic, but at this point I’m pretty used to that. I don’t really take it personally.

It’s my mom who is more involved in the day-to-day. When I think of independence, it’s her I think about getting away from. Small things, and big things, too. Like if I want to go to my therapist once a week but she wants me to go twice, we will butt our heads quite a bit. That’s been happening lately.

And, obviously, she’s always a little terrified for me. I’m her only child. And I’ve got these problems that she wants to help me with, always help me with. My whole life, she’s been the one who saves me.

From the book A Different Life by Quinn Bradlee. Excerpted by arrangement with PublicAffairs (, a member of the Perseus Books Group. Copyright © 2009.