Lou cringed as her brother told some kind of joke about pigs in the mud. She knew that she was being over-the-top, because she was so neat, but her brother could at least try not to be SUCH a slob around her.
The conversation shifted as Landen brought up their birthday tomorrow. Sasha was sitting across from Landen and listening intently.
“What did you just say about our birthday?” Lou asked, tilting her head to the side, a confused look spreading across her face.
“I was just telling Sasha how neither of us really wanted a big party or anything,” Landen started, but Lou interrupted him.
“Oh no! Big parties are such a MESS!”
“…and so, since the people who are working tomorrow work in the evening, we’re celebrating in the morning.” Lan finished explaining and then excused himself from the table to go paint.
“So, Sasha, when are you and Dexter going to have this wedding?” Lou asked Sasha, who had so far been fairly quiet at the table.
“Oh, ha!” Sasha said with a chuckle. “We don’t exactly know just yet. We want my family to be able to come also, and that’s going to take at least some scheduling…”
“Well, yeah,” Lou responded, only a little defeated. “I’m just so glad that you and Dex are finally together. I knew from the minute that you two met something special would develop. You bring out the best in him, Sasha.”
After that conversation ended, Sasha decided to go for a walk outside before she went to bed. She spent a lot of time in her backyard back at home, and this landscape was so different. There was hardly anything green at all in this desert… hm… maybe if they re-did the house that could be adjusted.
Meya walked up behind Sasha, who was startled by the sudden company. “Oh! Hi! Meya, it’s just you… I…” She paused, thinking about the conversation that she had with her father on the night of her going away party. “…I thought you were someone else. But that doesn’t make much sense.”
Meya smiled softly, understanding what a change it could be to join this family. Although the change for Meya was different than the change for Sasha, it was still a change. While Sasha was used to the money and all of the material things, the landscape here was probably much different than her home- and she was so far from her family. Meya had grown up in the desert, the change came in getting used to being a mother and in having so much access to so many things.
“Would you like to look at the stars with me, dear?” Meya asked, doing her best to have empathy with her almost daughter.
Sasha obliged and laid back onto the dry desert earth beside Meya.
“See,” Meya began, pointing toward the sky. “These stars are here, and these stars are also watching over your parents and your siblings and cousins and nieces and nephew.”
Sasha felt her eyes beginning to water and looked off to the side. “I miss them,” She said to the large rock nearby. Then, she looked back toward the sky and said a bit louder. “I know that I am loved here, and I am so glad to be here, but I also miss them. I miss telling Emerson how much better Llama Man is…”
“Well, dear, you are allowed to feel happy and sad at the same time. Complexity of emotion is a part of life. When I found out I was pregnant with Dexter, before we knew that he was Dexter, I was full of a whole range of emotion. I was scared, excited, happy, sad, and even a little queasy. I was so young, even younger than you, and I didn’t know what to think. My life was changing so dramatically,” She paused and let this sink in for Sasha, who was at first horrified about the thought of being a mother by now and grateful that Dexter had been born.
Then Sasha realized that her life was also dramatically changing. She left everything that she knew (well, almost everything) behind to come here. “So, did things finally balance out for you once you got used to the changes?” Sasha asked, looking back over toward Meya.
Meya thought for a second, pursing her lips, before she smiled and took a deep breath. “You know, in some ways things have balanced out, but in other ways everything is still so complex. As you are arriving here, things are shifting. Soon I’ll be old enough to retire from work, my babies are going to be young adults tomorrow, and eventually you and Dexter will have a baby or more of your own for me to learn to love.”
“I guess what I’m trying to say, before we both go get some rest,” Meya continued, thoughtfully, “is that you are allowed to feel many things at once, and none of us here will be offended or hurt that you miss your first family. We know that you love your place in our family, too.”
Everyone woke up bright and early the next morning and dressed in their best clothes for the tiny celebration. Two cakes sat on the kitchen island, and two teenagers approached the cakes with two completely different thought processes. Lou was prepared, excited, and not wasting any time to blow out her candles. Landen, however, was pensive and holding on to his last few seconds of being a teen.
“We did it bro! We’re young adults!”
Landen wasn’t quite as enthusiastic as his newly ambitious sister (seriously! Lou and Dexter both rolled ambitious as their YA trait!). Lately he had felt as though he had been driven insane, and really wanted to get some distance from the legacy house.
“Everyone,” he said, suddenly, “I’m moving out. I’m going to go live with our cousins, Katie and Julie. Aunt Elaina and Uncle Fernando recently passed away, and they need an adult figure in their life to finish guiding them through their teen years.”
And without much else said, Landen packed up his things and left, leaving even self-assured Lou feeling at a loss.