Riding I-95 North and South. Empty Nest. (Not)

It’s 1:35 a.m. I’m up. What’s that kid’s tune? How does it go? Head and shoulders knees and toes. Knees and toes. I wiggle my toes, roll over in bed to my other side. Beyond fatigue. Restless. It all aches. Get up and write about it.

560 miles. 4.5 hours down on I-95 S to Washington, D.C. 5.25 hours back in heavy traffic.  Three hours in between clearing out Eric’s apartment and filling a U-haul. Who said girls accumulate more sh*t than guys? Clothes. Shoes. Shoes. Shoes. Box Spring. Mattress. Headboard. Television. Couch. Chair. Dresser. Boxes and more boxes and more boxes. Five flights of stairs. I’m too old for this sh*t.

It started at 5:15 a.m. yesterday. No, that’s not correct. We moved him in almost 2 years to the day. Job in DC. Girlfriend in D.C. Followed by break-up with girlfriend four months ago. No reason given. We loved her. He bristled upon any query. Someone who had become a welcome addition to the Family, Gone. Sad, really.

And it was but a few weeks after we learned of the break-up (via Facebook status change), Dad started in on his Son.

Your job enables you to live anywhere? Why sink $2,000 into rent every month?

Your Mom would love for you to come home.

We’ll get a puppy, really, if you come home.

I’ll knock the wall out between your old room and your sister’s room. You’ll have a giant suite!

Think of the money you’ll save if you move back home. You’ll be able to afford that travel you so love to do.

Did you talk to your Boss about changing your base location to NY?

Are you still paying $2,000 a month rent? On your salary, how do you save any money?

This last one, and derivatives of it, would be a punch in his gut.

This stream, on rotation, would continue via email, text, Face Time, and phone calls.

It would be a 1-sided conversation, after which point he would snap back: “Dad, do you have a problem? No seriously Dad, are you like this at Work?” I would pause the drip, drip, drip of the attack for a day or so – and then launch in again. And, no, I wouldn’t give him the satisfaction, but yes, this is exactly how I am at work.

And then Susan would pile in. You’re really something you know. Why don’t you just stop? Leave him alone. You’re exhausting. Do you think this approach works? And you aren’t not knocking down any walls to build a Suite. What is wrong with you?  

This swirl goes on for four months.

And then this…

We’re sitting having dinner in early September. Between gulps of fried chicken and red skin potatoes, Eric blurts it out.

“I think I’d like to move home.”

“Excuse me?  What?”

“I think I’d like to move home.”

“You think you’d like to move home?”


I look over a Susan, smirking. Vindicated.

“Well that’s great Eric . . .”

“Mom really wants you to move back.”

Photo: Eric Kanigan self portrait in front Lincoln Memorial (Canon DSLR on his tripod).


  1. Hah! And here I am thinking… just two more years and they are OUT! Freedom in my own home! Well, chances are, for one of them, anyway. Hopefully the 2nd one will do more schooling. Still.
    You WANT them to move back? 😁
    Guess it’s different when you are a couple…

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I know you, David… It’s all about the dog… Yeah!!!! Please!!!!!

    Liked by 3 people

  3. This story and this conversation plays out across homes all over world. My theory…having had it with my own children. Parents need their kids far more than their kids need them, but when it comes to free rent…. It’s a no brainer for them. End result … Well, let’s say it’s the easy way out for all involved. My offer…Free counseling from me for future relationship issues ha 😂

    Liked by 3 people

  4. the ongoing push and pull from both sides of the heart –

    Liked by 1 person

  5. This is all about the dog, you’re not fooling anybody!
    And I wish you success convincing your daughter too.
    And this thing with finding stuff out through Facebook status, it is one thing when its others, a whole other thing when its your kid. Two of the three texted me last week,
    ” Mom, is H. In Vegas now?”
    “I’m at work. And of course he’s not. He would have told me.”

    Come to find out he was in Vegas 😡

    One last thing, are you really like that at work?

    Liked by 2 people

  6. What did I do wrong?? Both of mine moved out at 17 and never moved back! We took in homestay students for 7 years as we were so lonely. Now we have a dog to keep us company. Enjoy the company.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. One of your best stories and I’d be lying if I didn’t tell you I audibly groaned when I got to “five flights of stairs.” There seems to be a lot of emphasis on Zeke’s successor, so please keep in mind that if you do decide on another Vizsla, you are going to have to “up” your physical fitness level, or maybe it’s time for a poodle?

    Liked by 1 person

  8. First, kudos to Eric on the self-portrait! (I just took a night photography class and that took some SKILL.) Second, this hit SO close to home, and not only because I live in the DC-area. Last month when moved our son into his apartment with his girlfriend of 4 1/2 years, I thought, “Wow. He’ll likely only be moving home again under sad circumstances.” It was a level of empty nest-hood I hadn’t prepared for. (Fortunately they are only 20 minutes away.) We love his girlfriend too! I go back and forth between embracing it and trying not to like her too much in case there’s an unexpected breakup. Your ability to take us on the roller coaster ride of your emotions, “tactics,” and vulnerability was masterful, as always. Thank you Dave!

    Liked by 2 people

  9. Well played, David, well played, even if he didn’t get the girl. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  10. ❤ ❤ xo


  11. I love your wife and laughed out loud at this:
    “Do you think this approach works? And you aren’t not knocking down any walls to build a Suite. What is wrong with you? ” – HA HA HA —

    we all have our strategies, don’t we?

    >> Oldest boy left far too early & moved back in multiple times, bringing chaos with him every. single. time.

    >>Youngest boy stayed probably a bit too long and left once, hasn’t come back, and hubbs is still mopey about it.

    No matter how we did it, we all did it “right.”

    and I love that you’re so thrilled about him moving home – all that AND a dog!!
    PS that picture, wowzers!

    Cheers ~ MJ

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Yes. Happily exhausted. Vindicated. And committed. What’s the name of the pup?

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Sweet to have a child to come home. Kids really have to stay with parents until such time … see what bribery can do.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Awesome!

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Binmatee Sohan says:

    You probably would have gotten Eric to move back earlier had you said you wanted him to come home 🙂 but I certainly get it. My vote is “yes” you are like this at work and very effective. Good catching up.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. For kids it’s always nice for them to know they’re welcome to come home any time. They may be back and forth before things gel and they settle into their own life.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Now I feel sort of bad(ish)…. I always said that I’d throw my son out by latest 20 as I felt he had to lead his own life. Then I divorced and he wasn’t 20 yet…. We generally have a rather different attitude towards our growing up kids. We don’t like to be ‘hotel maman, hotel papa’ with a full service, no thank you, high expectations and no returns from our children’s side. But of course I see the monetary problems too and it’s no different in our country. On the other hand, having to fend for yourself (even though knowing that your parents/mum/dad are always there for you) DOES form you and makes you an adult before your reach T….p’s age, you learn the values, you learn to control your freakish sides, you might be mature enough by 25-28 to be with someone for the rest of your life. Maybe that’s no longer a reason? I don’t know.
    Very attractive photo, well done.

    And YESSSS, we all know perfectly well, it’s only and exclusively about your next dog – wau-wau-wow…. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Echoing similarities…///and you have plenty of time to keep up your exercising,from this gate to the next…get your steps in…are you still borrowing the neighbor’s dog? if so do you have a visitation schedule? /// I am listening and watching the vast deep blue sea as I write this, the beach is currently vacant,a few walkers & two dogs earlier … the cozy cottage is filled with the fragrance of chocolate based body cookies a gluten free, cookie mix w/ chocolate chip and he infused the batter with a juicy, sweet satsuma type orange from Peru…which is just a long, long journey down the coastline of the Pacific…///another great photo by Eric…

    Liked by 1 person

    • I have basically quit all exercise regimes. QUIT. No dog. No neighborhood dog. And I wish I was looking out at the vast deep blue sea as I was writing this. (And yes, it was a great photo by Eric, Thanks!)


  19. The ocean is such a needed and soothing respite for us…I do not wish upon anyone what we’ve been dealing with…

    Liked by 1 person

  20. To put it in 12 Steppers terms “”Our public relations policy is based on attraction rather than promotion…”
    My exwife likes to tell me she always got me to do stuff by making me think it was MY idea. lol

    Liked by 1 person

  21. My dad tries to be hard, but he’s a big softie. I used to hear rules like “you have a year after you graduate,” “you have until the end of college to stay on my phone bill,” “I can’t wait to be an empty-nester!” But when my lease ended 2 years after graduation and I had such bad timing for the next place, I had to approach him with THE QUESTION — I had plenty of rebuttals: “I’ll clean every day” “I’ll buy all my own groceries” “I’ll cook my own dinner” — but when I asked him, he made some wisecracking dad-joke and then said, “Of course you can, I’m not going to let you go anywhere else.” Parents, man.

    Liked by 1 person

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