The fish in my window

Fish swim across my office window. That’s how I imagine them, at least, when I look up from my computer screen and see them swaying against the pane. My mother gave me the glass fish, and she meant for me to hang them as ornaments on my Christmas tree, but I thought their colors shone too bright and blue and yellow for me to package them in tissue paper into the plastic storage box with the rest of the ornaments: brown felt bears, a gold metal star, ceramic animals, and red glittery balls. 

Now the fish dangle in my view all year round. They remind me of my colorful and bright mother, a person who wants me to have beautiful things.

I have not always had an office window. I’ve worked in large and small cubicles, and in offices with no natural light. But then I got married and moved across state lines, taking my job with me and becoming a remote worker. My husband gave me his desk, and his home work space, in what used to be the dining room. And now, I have this window. It inspires me, and is a small museum of things that matter: a Little Art Theatre decal, a quote tucked into the window—“Be thankful for what you have; you’ll end up having more.”—and also tucked, a picture of my parents’ snowy lawn, and a postcard of my husband’s and my beach vacation. 

The card reminds me of days we woke up wordlessly, puttered to make coffee, then sat in two chairs on the tiled patio outside our room and looked at the rustling palm tree; the vast, undifficult sky; and the glisten of silver on blue ocean. Lizards sauntered by our feet. We stopped checking email, kept the phone off, and told time by the sun’s height, the growl in our bellies, the drowsiness that settled like heat onto our bodies. I wrote everyday in my notebook about what we witnessed in town and on our hikes: the huge pods of termite nests lodged between tree branches; the sun breaking orange in the horizon at the end of day; and the man who owned a smoothie shop and whose young son had just died—this we only knew because as we waited in line, the locals kept coming by and lifting their hands into the window to hold his for a moment.     

That trip reminded me to be present, to notice the waves’ edges laced with white. And now, I look up at my window and see rain quiver down the pane. The fish are nearly swimming as I begin this day.