When a child leaves home and goes off to college, most parents find it a bittersweet turning point. The child is about to become an adult.
The younger of my two daughters is perched on the ledge of that proverbial nest, flexing her knees and testing her wings and getting ready to jump.
As for me, I have no qualms and couldn't be happier. There's no bitter - just sweet.
Within the last two months, Danielle turned 18 and graduated high school. Now she's making the cross-country jump from her mom's house in Virginia to mine in Carson City, where she'll live while attending Western Nevada College. I keep thinking of a smiling little Angry Bird being pulled back in the slingshot, ready to sail off into harm's way.
It's been eight years since I last lived full time with Danielle and my eldest, Caitlin, who just turned 21 and who attends college in Virginia. They were sweet girls then; they're stunning young women now who both still know just how tightly wrapped around their little fingers I still am.
Danielle wants to be a teacher, and she didn't want to go to college in Virginia. I lucked out by moving to Carson last year and discovering Western Nevada College. A little persuasion by me, a couple of visits by her, a dynamite campus tour by WNC's Anne Hansen, and the deal was sealed.
Carson's headcount (55,274 in the 2010 Census) is about to grow by one, and I for one am looking forward to the population boomlet.
It's hard to say which of us will have the harder time adjusting. My daughters and their world-class mom, Kelleyanne, have girls' nights out and go to Zumba classes together and share cars, clothes and jewelry. They live with two cats, killer traffic and high humidity.
I offer none of those things. Rather, Danielle will have to reacquaint herself with my lame puns and even lamer harmonica playing - not to mention my bachelor lifestyle. She'll take on new responsibilities once she moves in: She'll share the cooking, which we both like to do; she'll dust, which I don't like to do; and she'll become an avid reader of the Nevada Appeal, whether she likes it or not.
For the last few months, we've been counting down the weeks - and lately, via text message, the days - until she arrives. Her East Coast friends have feted her with farewell parties, and her relatives here on my side are preparing a Welcome West party. She has already switched her cellphone area code to 775 (something I still haven't done), and she's learned to flatten the first "a" in "Nevada." She's halfway home, so to speak.
When she shows up this week, my baby girl will have three suitcases in hand (two boxes of clothes have already arrived via the mail) and a bindle full of ambition: She wants a car, needs a job, and plans to get a library card. She wants to go horseback riding and swimming and hiking at Tahoe; she wants to try Basque food; she can't wait to register to vote.
As for me, I have a simpler agenda: I'm just looking forward to getting close to my kid again - even if she's not a kid anymore.
• Editor Dennis Noone can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.