We flew down to Miami last Thursday with our daughter and flew back home yesterday without her. She's off to college and the beginning of her new life. A happy/sad time for us all. She cried on the way down and I cried on the way back.
As I mentioned before, she's a bit shy and tentative, so she's never been away from home much before. A night here and there at sleepovers, but no away camp or trips without us. She's also had a relatively happy life (other than the usual teenage angst), with good friends and a boyfriend who's a nice guy. So, she wasn't one of those kids who couldn't wait to go away to college to start a new life and reinvent themselves. And, I suppose at least in part because she's an only child, we've been a close family. So leaving was definitely sweet sorrow for us all.
We moved her in to the dorm on Thursday after landing, with the first of many trips to Target to pick up all of the items she needs that we didn't cart down on the plane. We then helped her set up her room and try to organize all her junk in a small space. We thought that she would move in gradually over the week-end and stay with us at my brother's house. However, we didn't realize that they had all sorts of activities planned for the incoming freshmen over the week-end, so she ended up staying on campus. It ended up being a good way to do the transition. We visited her and did a few more trips to Target. My brother just starting working at Target as a pharmacist, so that was the place for us to go. He had also put together a goodie pile of supplies for her, so she's more than set.
One of the things I got her was a Webcam, so she can do videoconferencing with her friends -- and us, of course. I set it up on Sunday and we tested it Sunday night (I have a built in video camera on my new ThinkPad). As I keep telling her, with all of the ways to stay in touch with friends and family, going away to college sure is different from back in the day. For us, long distance was a big deal, so you only spent a few minutes on a long distance call on occasion and never called your friends. I could remember calling collect, with my parents refusing the charges, as a way of letting them know I had arrived safely back home. Letter writing via regular mail was the main means of communication. Now, there's cell phones, text messaging and webcams. Myriad ways to reach out and touch.
She may be gone, but she's never too far away.
(Picture of sunset from my brother's back yard)