Senior discounts, empty nest

A couple of milestones, recently.

A few weeks ago, I turned 55. Last night, I noticed that IHOP offers meals for seniors (over 55) half price on Thursday nights. What a deal!

And last week, I took my daughter, Emma, to college.

Emma is our third, and youngest.

This is the last time we’ll do this. It’s been ten years since we left Sarah at at UNCG and eight years since we took Aaron to Brevard. So Emma had plenty of time as the only child in the house. And plenty of attention from her parents. Now she gets to check out the rest of the world.

Emma is at Warren Wilson College. Wednesday was an exciting day. The excitement was mixed with long gazes at the beauty of the mountains, and sudden surges of emotion, getting choked up at the thought of leaving her behind there.

Warren Wilson College

But we did.

She’s on her own now. And we have an empty nest.

She’s in a remarkable place. When we drove up, a couple of students rushed to our car and unloaded it, carrying all of her stuff to her 2nd floor dorm room.

I thought of the line from the movie: “You had me at hello.” They had me at “Park here and we’ll unload your car.”

Warren Wilson is a “work college.” Every student has a campus job. They have a farm, and raise much of their own food.

Unlike most colleges, wherein students complain about the food in the cafeteria — the students at Warren Wilson talk about how good it is. After all, they produce it and prepare it. They have a vegetarian section. They have a vegan section.

And it’s a service college. Everybody contributes to making the planet a better place in which to live.

It’s also a great place for traditional learning, but with a slightly different twist. I noticed talk of research and learning and poetry, but little talk of academic fear and competition.

Back home on Thursday morning, I was visiting with a customer and telling them that this was my first day with an empty nest — and suddenly I had a thought that I’ve never had before.

Is Alicia (my wife) okay? I better check on her! And I rushed home and did that. She was fine — albeit tired from the previous day of moving Emma in.

I notice myself talking to our dog a lot, telling her… well… what a wonderful dog she is. And she is.

And thus begins this exciting time of life for me…

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