A rare day out on the wharf:
The fresh air and sunshine does the boys good.
And Daniel perhaps remembers a bit of what persuaded him to leave his home and travel thousands of miles to marry an impulsive, quarrelsome, sometimes frighteningly ambitious woman.
Friday night, the Spice Festival entices us out again. I’m really just hoping to find the plants we need to complete our collection (and I do snag some sage, which had oddly eluded us up until then), but the monkey bars are an enjoyable haven for Andres.
And the karaoke bar provides Myron with a judgement-free zone to saw away at his violin.
When the notice arrives that Daniel is due for elderhood, we are confident enough to throw him a birthday party. He cooks three gourmet dishes, and is now only missing one promotion in the culinary career to complete his aspiration. I want so badly to help him achieve it. I’m counting on his active trait to keep him with us long enough to . . . well, I don’t like to think about it too much. He’ll get there. He has to.
I indulge my curiosity regarding the one golden relic I’ve managed to retrieve by activating it on Eliza Pancakes.
At first she just responds with a world-weary sigh. Something tells me Ms. Pancakes has her own set of butterflies that buffet her about in perhaps a rougher fashion than mine. She’s been through quite a few timelines, far more than I, and consistently finds herself in these types of situations.
The Curse of the Ancients may actually be a new one for Eliza, however, as the full force of it seems to take her somewhat by surprise.
No one, least of all our Dance Machine nanny, takes any notice as she slips into unconsciousness next to the bar.
The achievements seem to come all at once. As I’m maxing fishing, I finally complete my collection of frogs, which in turn completes my aspiration. When it comes to selecting a new one, I push aside my guilt and common sense and follow my heart. I have already maxed archaeology, and so I think perhaps Archaeology Scholar is within my reach. I can complete most of it at home with the relics and dirt clumps I’ve hoarded from my first two trips, and with what arrives in the mail for authentication.
Most, but not all of it. Despite my earlier vow to leave my wandering days behind me, I drag my family to the jungle Saturday night. I promise to bang things out as quickly as I can, if only to get Daniel back in time for his next shift at the restaurant.
Myron is still a few ticks away from completing Rambunctious Scamp, so spends every last bit of his energy scarfing vimberries and alternating sit-ups and push-ups. We cannot gather as a club or rally the troops while on vacation, so I’m afraid he runs himself quite ragged.
With only a few minor run-ins with the local insect populations, I survey for the required number of dig piles. I must leave their treasures undiscovered, however, as a very important event is about to occur back at the rental villa . . .
The boys are about to become young men.
We throw caution to the wind and host an actual party, even though the only guest to make it down to Selvadorada is our dear Nanny Parikh. Well, I suppose “dear” is putting it a bit strongly. She and Daniel have never gotten along well since their painting argument, and I’m still holding a bit of a grudge from the time she asked to join the family club, and then proceeded to steal all the produce from the garden. I kicked her out, of course, but the boys are both still very fond of her, and it was good of her to travel all that way to help us celebrate their birthdays.
It’s not as somber a gathering as it appears. We’re all just focused on eating cake and playful berries to meet the requirements. We’re stuffed to the gills, but manage a gold, and I allow the boys to race each other to the bathroom for makeovers.
While I slip out to the jungle one last time. If I’m lucky enough with the dirt clumps I’ve collected from my two previous visits, I’ll be able to complete the remainder of this aspiration in the comfort of Brindleton Bay.
The boys are as handsome as can be, and look so grown-up. I feel dizzy reflecting on the past few weeks. They were conceived here, so it makes sense, in its own way, that they leave their childhoods behind in this place.
Myron, the eldest by a moment or two, adds Dance Machine to his Genius Trait, and will pursue the Musical Genius Aspiration. On his next birthday, he will become Active like his father.
Andres’s path winds in a very different direction. He is now a Loner as well as Good, and wishes to become a Good Vampire. He, also, will gain his father’s Active trait when he next ages, much to the delight of our faithful Gizmo. No matter what happens, he’ll never have trouble finding a jogging partner.
We arrive home with renewed exuberance. I am delighted not only in my newly-aged sons, but also in the fact that I have no say in the big decision that comes next. I couldn’t choose which of my sons would carry on the legacy if my life depended upon it.
Myron is the quintessential golden boy. With unquestionably positive traits, and an easily completed aspiration, he is sure to accomplish much, quickly, and with the ease of a pure, uncomplicated heart. He is pure sunshine, and deeply beloved by everyone he meets.
Andres, though identical, is all mystery and shadow to Myron’s light. He is a brooding romantic, preferring the company of his own thoughts most of the time, though with a desperate desire to be seen and understood by someone special. His aspiration will take time, but he is blissfully unplagued by the pressure of aging that dogs his mortal family members. He, too, is sure to accomplish much, at his own pace.
I could never choose between them, but the weight of this decision does not fall on my shoulders, and the relief fills me with joy and optimism. And so now, I leave it to you, gentle reader. Which path do you choose?