Shed 110 pounds the other day. One daughter, semi-formed, out of the house and into her first post-college apartment.
Should have done it a year ago, shed the 110 pounds, but she didn't have a job, or a car or many prospects for any of the above. Leaving college is like being born all over again.
So she moved home, where the food is free and so is the company, except your parents badger you just like you were 14, not 22 and semi-formed. Empty the dishwasher! Take out the trash! ("Hell on Earth" is too kind an expression.)
Finally, she's rid of us and all that badgering. Presumably, the trash in her apartment will now empty itself, and the dishes will self-wash. What you learn, once you get a place of your own, is how much maintenance there is to life — maybe 90% maintenance to 10% fun. In college, it's just the reverse. Compared with real life, college is a country club.
The move went well. From what I can tell, our daughter took with her every little crumb and all the good TV-watching blankets. There is a giant gaping grin in the closet where her clothes once lived. You could decorate a Rose Parade float with just the stuff she filched from her mother's bathroom.
Remember when the Clampetts moved to Beverly Hills? This didn't have that same sense of glamour, though I will confess that strapping Posh to the top of the minivan provided some light moments. Waving from her rocking chair, my wife entered Brentwood wearing a toothy Italian smile and a tiny tiara.
Our daughter's new crib, Apartment 22, is a grand place, almost Parisian. Built in five minutes, probably during the 1960s, you might drive right past without realizing the opulence within. There's a courtyard, pool, some lounge chairs. And now our youngest daughter and her best bud, Quinn, two slices of the same sun.
When we finished moving my daughter in, she invited me to drive her down to Newport Beach in the rental truck to fetch a bed she'd bought from her sister's roommate. Within the sub-economy of young apartment dwellers, someone is always tossing a couch or selling off a StairMaster. It's how they make it all work.
So off in the wobbly rental truck we go.
First, I want to apologize to the Maserati I crushed at the corner of Barrington and San Vicente. You were right in my blind spot, which included everything not straight ahead. If you ever find yourself near a rental truck, I advise just pulling to the side of the road and waiting for it to pass, as you would a twister.
Apologies too to the motorcycle club from Ojai, but I had to make that left turn onto Wilshire.
"Have you ever had a pickleback?" my daughter asks as we rattle down the 405.
"That a band?"
"A shot of whiskey and a shot of pickle juice," she explains.
"So, basically, it's a vegetable?"
"The most-delicious ever!" she says.
Like I said, semi-formed. Which isn't the worst thing. At her age, the morning light dances in your eyes just a little longer.
Look, what's the goal of parenting? To raise contented, capable children? That's all, really. To instill some decency and values. To teach them to roll with things when life becomes a wobbly rental truck.
I want my daughter happy, but even more than that I want me happy. I discovered a long time ago that you can't have one without the other. As the adage goes, you're only as happy as your least happy child.
Admittedly, there is an underlying tension to this move: that we don't want to lose her again, even if it is merely to a two-bedroom walk-up across town.
Another underlying tension is that we don't want her moving back home anytime soon either. This is a milestone for her, and a small test of our parenting chops.
So, basically, we want her in our lives, yet out — independent and not too far away, available for what one friend describes as the "energy bomb" she delivers every time she steps through the front door.
Ka-boom! "I'm home!"
Hope she'll always think of us as that: home, the crazy sanitarium where, when her little brother practices the trumpet, the beagle howls his fool head off.
Home, where her dad just shed 110 very pretty pounds. And a little corner of his heart. Ka-boom.