“Goldfish are actually some of the longest-lived fishes you can purchase. They are capable for living several decades under the right conditions, and the supposed record is 49 years of age.” –Arthur Masloski
This past Christmas, I was determined to add a modest investment into the small piggy-bank of time spent with my family over the course of one calendar year. So, I snuggled my booty into the confines of an economy plane seat and flew home to Minnesota prepared with my thickest down jacket, my warmest snow-proof boots, and with pairs of wool socks for days.
Christmas Day arrived without a disappointment in sight. My heart burst with all of the love that I have for my quirky immediate family, knowing that my quirkiness fit comfortably next to theirs. Along with my heart, my stomach burst after I ate waaay too many of those peanut butter cookies with the Hershey kiss planted in the middle (Thanks Michelle).
But this blog post isn’t actually about the details of my Christmas (All grinches are welcome to tune back in now-or out, depending on the grinch.) It actually revolves around a conversation that occurred the night before my 6am flight out of Minnesota.
My dad and I had driven over to my brother Nate’s house that Friday night with the promise of more family time and a full physical assault conducted by their black lab, [Darth] Vadar, on the horizon. After the ritual chaos of dogs barking and multiple bodies slowly migrating to a seated position in one singular room, we settled down around oven-baked pizza and cranberry ginger ale.
As we chatted, Bella, my niece walked over to her aquarium to affectionately feed her goldfish. I blinked a little bit harder at the fish, suddenly noticing how hearty they appeared in contrast to a goldfish you might find swimming around in a plastic baggie as a prize for say, throwing darts at a painted clown face. “Huh,” I profoundly exclaimed, “they almost look bigger than normal goldfish..?” Their family collectively nodded and my sister-in-law, Shannon, explained that goldfish never actually stop growing. They grow until they die. Typically, they die so quickly under the care of humans because their environment doesn’t grow with them. After a bit of investigation on the topic, I discovered that “the common goldfish, so popular on fairgrounds, are among the largest, and they are capable of reaching over 18 inches and 10 pounds.” Goldfish bowls are just too damn small for the goldfish.
I sort of forgot about this massive unravelling of the world as I knew it until this past week when I was sitting in the leasing office of an apartment building in Denver. My eyes were staring down at fine black print on freshly printed white paper. Two blank lines stared back at me—one for my signature, the other for the date.
As a 13-year old girl, I dreamt of having my own loft apartment as an adult. A particular train trip to Seattle with my parents left me dreamy-eyed as I peered into the windows of boutique home furnishing shops in downtown. I was entranced by metal lighting fixtures, sleek wooden frames, and glass tables. I told myself that one day, I would move to Seattle and furnish my exposed-brick, 10-foot ceiling studio apartment with all the perfectly elegant furnishings that money could buy (You know, because you just automatically have all the money ever when you grow up to be an adult).
Fast forward to now and suddenly, I am a 27 year old woman who, yes, moved away from home but no, has never lived by herself. Never! My childhood was spent in a home with multiple siblings and frequent house guests. After moving out of my dad’s house a DECADE ago, I have had a range of 1-6 room mates. Currently, I have 2. And they’re lovely. I left Denver 2 years ago for these room mates and for the lovely Colorado town of Golden where I currently hail as a Golden Girl.
I could list a dozen reasons as to why I should probably stay in Golden. However, like the goldfish, I was absolutely content with where I was swimming until very suddenly, my body demanded a bigger bowl. But it’s not the actual physical space that I require (my new apartment is smaller), it’s the space needed to be completely alone. I never forced myself to live alone before because I was simply, too scared. Can I really just go home to myself and feel at ease? Can I really sleep easily knowing that I’m the only one there to protect myself? Can I live without t.v., the internet, and cell phone data and still feel connection to others?
These are the questions that my body is longing to explore. I am a Golden fish longing to dive deeper into the waters of self-efficacy.
So, after channeling the growth of a goldfish, I stepped into the leasing agent’s office and sat down to a copy of my lease. I picked up a green-inked pen and barely believed my own body as my right hand lifted up and pressed down onto the paper. My fingers wrote in cursive, “Anna Buck”.