In six weeks, our precious angel is leaving home.
Not going far - she's not even leaving the county - but the move to an apartment near UC Irvine is a major step. She's taking some of her furniture (notably her bed) with her, so her bedroom is going to look very different. She's given us permission to put the spare bed in there and use it as a guest room. (Although she'll still have clothes in her closet, and has asked us not to repaint just yet.)
She's not going to be a stranger - we'll be giving her a living allowance (as will her father) and she'll come home to collect the checks and have dinner with us. (Free meals are going to become more important to her -- since she's not living in a dorm, the meals aren't included in her rent.)
We'll be empty-nesters; she doesn't plan to come home for the summer, for example. And if all goes as we currently expect, in a few years she'll move on from UC Irvine to wherever she pursues her Master's Degree in ancient history. I have hundreds of photos* of her, but I recognize that she and I, and my camera, aren't going to see each other nearly as often anymore.
Do you know that I stay up for her when she comes home late? (Unless I'm out later than she is, such as at LASFS/Solley's, of course. Or out of town.) She likes it, even as she protests that I don't need to do it anymore, because if I'm up she doesn't have to find her housekey. This means that she hardly ever is the one to turn out the lights -- because she's not the last one to go to bed. There have been times I've dozed off in the bedroom, and got up at midnight or 1 am to find that she's already come home and the lights are still on. Kind of funny... but it's one small way her habits are going to change when she and Carmel are sharing the apartment on their own.
Did you know that one night I was up late, and a friend of hers from high school came over, running away from home? A number of her friends knew that if push came to shove, they'd find safe harbor here. One of them actually showed up, and stayed with us for a few days before returning to her family (although for a moment there it looked like she might move in with her grandma up past Bakersfield somewhere). And ever since that night, if I'm up, I keep the porch light on until I go to bed. One of Maria's friends might need a friendly welcome in the middle of the night.
Friends all around me, near and far, are having children (or celebrating birthdays of their pre-school podlings), and the daughter of my heart is all grown up. I've been a part of her daily life for twelve years. I knew, intellectually, that it was temporary -- but it seems like it doesn't really sink in until the end is smack in your face.
Department of odd coincidences: When I moved out of my parents' house, I did it while they were away on a trip. library_lynn and I will be at Armadillocon when Maria's expecting to move out of here.. of course, my folks didn't know to expect me gone when they returned, so that's a little different...
*More than 900 photos on my server. We also have some that we've been meaning to scan in...