He is a good friend, and not just for a fish, but in general. He’s a great listener.
I’m starting to realize that the ears hear but they’re not what listen. Which is a good thing for Fraidy and me. (Do fish have ears? Huh. Even if they do, which they must, right?, that’s not how Fraidy listens.) I feel it. I know it. And he always responds accordingly: If I’m bored he shows off for me. If I’m tired he just chills out with me. If I’m telling him things he paces slowly, back and forth, taking it all in, swimming to the top every once in a while to offer eye contact, as if to say, “Huh. Very interesting, jesse! And how did that make you feel?” And then I tell him and he continues to swim slowly, around and around… and around.
And I listen. I know he doesn’t like it when I scatter fish flakes just any ol’ place. He prefers that I sprinkle them in delicately, on the far left side, where the reeds are. He feels less vulnerable there and the flakes float longer when I am gentle, which he likes. He would prefer that I clean out the debris as often as possible, and I do. It annoys him when he mistakes a cherry blossom for flakes. He spits them out with such a scowl. It’s the closest he’s come to raising his voice at me. He doesn’t mind the Seal, but this doesn’t mean he likes her. The distinction is obvious… and important. Is he jealous? Maybe. But unless he feels like elaborating his reasons are his own. None the less, I get it. I make sure to go out there without her sometimes for a little jesse/Fraidy time, which we both appreciate now and then.
And the fact that we trust each other is mutually obvious. He has watched other fish in that pond learn hard, hard lessons for swimming to the top. I mean, sometimes the decision to swim to the top is a life and death decision. And Fraidy got his name because he hid from me for so long. That’s why he’s still around. He doesn’t just swim to the top for any ol’ shiny thing that might be food but could be a raccoon paw. What we have is a slow and authentic building of trust.
And now, there’s something about me that he recognizes and trusts, and vice versa. Regardless of whether I come baring fish flakes or not, when he sees me he immediately swims to the top and gives the top of the water a few little fish kisses, like his fish version of the French bisou, and then starts to flip flop around like an excited puppy, happy to see me.
There is no doubt with him because I have given him none, and none with me for that same reason. I can’t explain it, nor can he (because he is a fish. And although I am not sure about fish ears, I am sure of their inability to speak in a way that humans could literally understand. If that changes I will surly let you know and I will also be rich and famous when I do).
The fish gets it and I appreciate that more than his little fish flake sized brain might ever understand. So, I ramble on and on… and on, while he swims around and around… and around. And this how we roll (swim, ramble) and this is all we need.