I Bought a Fish

My roommate and I recently bought a fish. All summer we had been talking about room decorations, excitedly preparing for move-in day. We were talking about who would get which side of the room and so on when out of the blue I got the text “I think we need to get a fish.”

I forgot about the fish proposal and soon we were moving in. We had decided against all the other “extra” ideas: color coordinating our separate sides, buying a rug to cover the already carpeted floor, and investing in a chair that would have been forced to sit directly in the center of everything. I assumed the fish fell into this category of forgotten plans.

Two weeks into the semester, on the first Monday of classes, I was sitting in the library staring at the piles of work. I couldn’t win this staring match and yet I couldn’t turn away. That is until my computer chimed with a new message.

"What are you doing?” my roommate texted.

"Literally nothing.” I lied.

"Great. Let’s go get a fish!”

"Ok."

And just like that, we were walking out of Petco with a fish. I held his jar delicately in my hands, lifting him up so that he could see out the window. The entire ride we kept proclaiming to no one in particular, “Oh my god what have we done?” Yet at every stop light we took picture after picture of our new pet, our smiles huge and unwavering.

We moved him into our room with immense care and horror as we realized this life was our charge now. This tiny little life was our responsibility. Our friends began responding to our multitude of Snapchats, their congratulations making me feel more insecure in our impulsive decision. It wasn’t until I met a friend in person at the same library I had so swiftly exited just a few hours before, that I knew our purchase was the best we could have made.

This friend looked at me with a face of concern and asked, “You bought a fish...are you ok?”

The answer is yes, I am ok. My roommate and I did not experience some kind of mental break, did not have an emotional crisis, nothing horrible happened to us that caused us to impulsively buy a fish. We decided that we wanted to care for something other than ourselves, we wanted the responsibility of keeping some other life alive and well. We took that impulse and made it a reality. We made a decision without any outside opinion or influence and we acted decisively.

The whole process was empowering. As my 20th birthday approaches, this act of decisively buying and caring for a fish has given me an added responsibility that has made me feel more prepared for that inescapable transition from teenage me, to adult me. Now Drogon, our beloved fish, sits happily on my desk. Each day we get to watch him as he swims around his tank mesmerizingly, spreading his fins, showing off, and living large. We certainly made the right choice.