On Thursday, The Wife and I dropped off The Girl at college. She’s our youngest.
Now it’s just us and the dog.
It went as well as I could have asked. We did our major goodbyes on Wednesday night, so Thursday could be devoted to driving, unpacking, and driving back. I stuffed the Mazda to within an inch of its life so we could squeeze everyone and everything into one car. The travel gods had mercy on us and spared us rough traffic, which isn’t a given on I-95 on a weekday morning.
Unlike our experience at UVA a few years ago with TB, the process at Maryland was quick and easy. I had expected long lines of cars unloading, but arrival times had been staggered enough that we were able to pull right up. Even the weather cooperated.
TG is in a triple that looks like it was designed as a double, so my initial impression upon arrival was that there was no way everything would fit. Somehow, it did. Her roommates seem very much like her: as she put it, “we’re all tall, smart, progressive women.” (At 5’9”, she’s the shortest of the three.) Within less than two hours, the room went from uninhabited to fully organized. I’m sure they’ll add bells and whistles, but it already looks established.
One roommate is the daughter of Anne Hofmann, an English professor at Frederick Community College whom I knew a little from Twitter. She and TW hit it off at orientation in July, and they picked up right where they left off on Thursday. She graciously invited us to join her and her family for lunch afterwards at a terrific Vietnamese restaurant, which was the perfect way to break up the day. We went back to campus afterwards to explore a bit, take a few pictures, and say our goodbyes before TG started her new adventure.
I had expected to be an emotional wreck at the final goodbye. (The phrase I kept using was “quivering mass of jello.”) And while there was a slight catch in my throat at the end, TG was so palpably excited that it was hard to feel anything but excitement for her.
TG has always had a strong independent streak. That’s not a euphemism for anything; it’s just accurate. She has a clear sense of herself, a strong moral compass, and a blend of ambition and ethics that makes us proud. Our parenting philosophy from the beginning has been that it was our job to prepare the kids to leave us. By that measure, we’ve succeeded with both kids. TB has thrived at college, and TG has been straining at the confines of high school (and home) for some time. She’s so ready, and so excited, that mooning over our loss would have seemed churlish. Her excitement was contagious.
I’ll admit to some quiet moments on the drive home.
For a few reasons, TG’s nickname in the family for years has been “Bird.” Bird is ready to leave the nest and fly. That’s what birds do. It’s supposed to happen.
If the nest feels a little empty now, well, that’s supposed to happen, too.
Godspeed, little Bird. It’s your time to fly. You’re ready.