My friend Konstanze helped me arrange my fish on the wall. When I first tried arranging them, I made the blue fish face the gold ones, but then it looked as though it was challenging them, and as though they were going to attack and eat it. Konstanze is an emotional genius, and she knew to put them this way, where the blue fish can go happily on its own unique adventure, completely at peace with the gold ones. I was sad to take them down when we moved out of our house last weekend.
The fish were made by a couple in North Carolina who make art out of old screen doors and other found materials. I bought them years ago in Half Moon Bay on my “annual day off.” When my daughter was young, and I was new to single working motherhood, there was never a time when I could be alone and completely turn off except for one day a year: Columbus Day. My company closed, since our parent company is on the East Coast, and my daughter’s California school didn’t. Every year on that day, I would pack up blankets and snacks and drive to the same secluded, mostly empty beach north of Half Moon Bay. I made a little nest for myself and then just sat there watching the gray waves pound the sand. For hours. Sometimes couples would wander by holding hands. Or children would fly kites with their grandparents. Once there was a dead sea lion. Those hours, empty of sound other than rhythmic water rushes and gull cries, empty of color other than soft grays, pale blues, and bleached yellows, empty of sensation other than wind and salty spray, stay with me always. They gave me strength for the rest of the year, and I feel peaceful simply calling them to mind.
On Saturday, my daughter and I go off together on our own unique adventures. I hope we can do it with as much cheer and wide-eyed innocence as my little blue fish.