Saturday and Phil begins packing food for our daughter's return to university. From where I am sitting all I can see is a huge jar of Nutella and several bottles of wine.
Later we watch Little Women. I need to go food shopping and question whether I have the fortitude to see it all the way through. Inevitably I am drawn into the film as the evening light dims. We saw it as a family at the cinema when it was first released at the end of 2019. The Beforetimes. I recall weeping at the trailer for Military Wives.
Luckily it's dark inside by the time the inevitable occurs and I cry ugly and try my best not to sob out loud.
Our daughter's actual move to new accommodation had occurred back in July. The search for a shared house starting much earlier than that. Students are barely settled in halls before looking for a place to live in their second year.
Earlier in the summer we had taken everything out of her small room in halls of residence, put it into the car and made the ten minute drive to the house she is sharing with her friends. Her street is mostly Homes Of Multiple Occupancy. Skips sit outside houses in varying states of destruction and renovation.
Each room of her house has an en suite. A long cherished ambition is fulfilled. For the first time my daughter won't have to share a loo with anyone.
She is returning early. The stated reason being that she needs to oversee the installation of a smart meter. The actual reason might be that she has had enough of sharing a toilet with her parents. Loading up the car with wine and Nutella we put the rest of her belongings into the boot. It is half-empty compared to the first journey we made a year ago.
Alan is returning too. He has given birth over the summer. A mini Alan has sprouted in his pot. I hope he will be more sensible than last year. Accept his new responsibilities and not fall back in with a bad crowd. We all know what happened at Christmas.
The route is now familiar to me. As soon as I've parked the car it starts to rain. Climbing the stairs with my arms full of boxes and tote bags I am relieved to see that the broken mirror on the landing wall left by the previous tenants has been removed. Soon everything is more or less in place in and we are ushered out the door.
We wave goodbye. It has taken less than half an hour. At home I glance into our daughter's room with the empty bed neatly made. I am getting used to it.
In the film Jo says that she can't believe childhood is over. Meg replies that it was going to end one way or another. Meg is right. The installation of a smart meter is merely a reminder.
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