12:01 AM, Saturday, September 28th 2019:
HAPPY BIRTHDAY VIENNA!!!!!!! (7 exclamation points)
...and Ernie is back!
All is right with the world once Ernie is back.
Dear Vienna,
So you can actually read this. Completely. By yourself. So I suddenly don't know what to say. Come to think of it, since you still aren't really "online" and have no idea what The Journey is I can just write to the age I think you'll be when you...
...it just hit me that you'll be able to read this without parental guidance at some point and will not possibly be able to process what's housed within these walls. And there it is. The moment a 20 year project REALLY hits you. But for now, let's start over:
Dear Vienna,
7 is very different than 5 or 6. I was cool with every age and for some reason 7 hits me as: oh, you're halfway to 14 and a third of the way to 21. You've absolutely completed a big chapter of your life and I do indeed feel like there's only a handful of years where we have the relationship we have now. I hope I'm wrong and will believe I'm wrong every step of the way but in the deepest parts of my heart I know I will lose you for a bit. Because I will never lie to you, you will come back at some point... but it will be different.
Right now? When you say "Hi Dada!" in the morning when you see me or when I come back from somewhere you MEAN IT. You are thrilled. You are so happy to see me and it makes me want to weep it means so much. But that's not my role as a father. I can't hold onto that. I can enjoy it in the moment, but I have to be focused on helping you be a self-sufficient, strong and happy young woman and guide you AWAY from us eventually.
I have to literally write that out because my HEART? Oh my heart wants to freeze you in time and keep you this adorable and hilarious forever. I cannot begin to express to you how much it warms my heart that you like me. And it doesn't feel like it's just because I'm your dad. It's the same reasons I actually like you. Not just because you're my daughter. I truly find you hilarious. I adore watching you learn and seeing the amazing thoughts that come out of your brain. There just isn't a moment I don't love. Even when you're annoyed at Cam or freaking out about something... it's still a teachable moment to help you learn how to make it in a world full of annoying people.

That's actually all the life skills you need when you're intelligent: the ability to handle fucking idiots without killing yourself. I was good in my 20s and 30s. I've pretty much built my own island in my 40s because I CANNOT DEAL WITH STUPIDITY ANYMORE. Ahem. I may not be your best guide for that...
...but either way - I love you more than I can ever express. I will give my entire life to help you create the most fantastic and happy existence if you wish to have my help.
I hope you do.