Author’s Note: The Barimens return from China to an incredible new home. It is as close to a mansion as they have ever seen. Looking back through the legacy, it is kind of remarkable considering how David grew up in the old cabin. The household income is simply astronomical, with David earning nearly 6000 simoleons a day, plus the 30,000 a week from properties. My goal is to get Mark a level 3 visa in China and purchase a mansion there as well.
The funny thing about happiness is that some sims treat it as a precious commodity and bottle it up; as if to keep it from evaporating. Other sims let it flow freely, as if its source is limitless and inexhaustible. Normally, there is absolutely nothing wrong with either approach. A sim can consume his neatly packaged bundles, or bathe in the gushing fountains as desired. The general rule being, if a sim is able to harness his or her happiness, then all is well. But what happens to a sim when the way they conceive happiness gets altered?
What if something changes, and there is too much happiness to bottle; or the previously unlimited supply somehow slows to a trickle. The challenge is learning how to adapt to a new way of achieving happiness, or risk either being swept away or left standing out to dry.
Mark, of course, is the example of a sim who has found a new source of happiness. He slowly learns that he does not need to capture and preserve the happiness he finds, because it comes at him in abundance. Whether through training at the small Martial Arts studio in town, or his return trips to China to train with Jiang Xi and Mei; Mark has more happiness than he knows what to do with.
He has mended many of the broken relationships in his life, mostly with his father, but also with old friends who welcome the change. He learns how to make a difference in lives without being overbearing and brutish. All of this, he attributes directly to Jiang Xi and the discipline he learns from the ancient instructor and his beautiful granddaughter.
Ciara, on the other hand, has forgotten that she too was exactly like her son, Mark. Having both parents and a sister die in separate household accidents was bad enough. Then being abandoned by her oldest sister for fear of ending up like the others, had left Ciara with immeasurably small reserves of happiness. Then came an angel of a man named David Barimen.
Her efforts in Africa, which not only saved lives but also enriched them, broke open the levee and started the flow of happiness for her. And over time, the happiness streamed freely as she and David started a family. She has found joy in teaching the children and learning many skills of her own. She has perfected her own folksy style of guitar; often playing at the park and gathering a huge crowd.
But as Jacob becomes a teenager, and the babies fly through their toddler years, Ciara feels a sense of dread begin to set in. It is the same sense she felt as a child, and it is inexplicable. David comforts her and tells her that there is no fear in growing old together. No matter how old the children get, they will always look up to her the way everybody looked up to Bebe. But David does not understand. Ciara is not afraid of growing old with him; what she fears most is not getting the opportunity to.
Mark’s adjustment is also far from perfect, and his nearly euphoric state of mind prevents him from seeing a potentially dangerous situation unfolding. In the past, Mark would have seen the problem coming. But with his edge gone, he dismisses a confrontation between Jacob and Ali as harmless …when, in fact, it is not.
Jacob has started dating Yasmeen, Ali Zalne’s sister. Her family strictly forbids any kind of interaction with the opposite sex outside of her immediate family. When Ali finds them making out after school, he knocks Yasmeen to the ground to get at Jacob. Mark is there to defuse the situation peacefully …or so he thinks. Perhaps Mark would have heard Ali’s threat and seen the terror in Yasmeen’s eyes had he retained his edge.
But he misses the cues, instead focusing on the enjoyment he and his friends will be having later in the day when be celebrates his birthday into adulthood. It is an epic party, to be sure. And though the signs are there for Mark to read, he remains oblivious.
He leaps into adulthood with Yasmeen close-by but detached; bearing witness to the unspeakable scenarios playing out in her fear-filled mind.