By Larry Feinstein

I am sitting at the usual, staged setting for writing, always the same. My desk is triangular shaped and it wedges perfectly into its corner of the room. When my eyes rise above the computer screen, I look straight into the windowless corner, having to raise my head slightly to see the room come together above. There are windows to the left and right, shoulder height, and up to the sky, at least that’s my view. Now, I am not going to run down a list of the various objects on my desk. OK, let me do it real quick and don’t shoot me with a grammar gun:

  • A small sack of ambrosial, scented lavender from my magical trip to Tuscany, just off to my right.
  • It is followed by a deer antler found when I was running on a trail in the Colorado wilderness.
  • Sitting under the curved antler is a solid, hardball-sized, orb of glass with red and blue internal stripes and several white speckled ones, a small portion of the ashes of a very close friend. He lived in LA and you gotta know that it’s exactly the place this would happen. No matter what I think, what the hell am I going to do? Of course, I had to keep it.
  • There’s an erector set lamp with a photo of my grandson, arms folded, leaning on its base. It fits in snugly at the top of the triangle desk.
  • Then, we have my only worldly possession, a 10-inch-high marble statue of a Buddhist holy man. I found him quietly waiting on the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art in 1982, right where the statue of Rocky had been temporarily erected. My Rocky stands silently posed just to the left of the screen and behind it. Our meeting is a really long story and one of my favorites to tell.
  • There are two small, rectangular speakers at the bottom of the triangle base, because I honestly don’t think I could live a life without hearing all the music I love.

I apologize for that horrendously long paragraph, but I couldn’t think of a better way to do it. We are just about done, but I can’t leave myself out of this. I have my trusty, MacBook Air on the desktop, and I use the protruding computer shelf just below to rest my elbows. I sit on a cheesy, swiveling office chair, often spending full-on memory time with the desk’s inhabitants.

Both the desk and my life have recently been turned upside down. Around a week ago, I made a spur of the moment decision that will follow me the rest of Jackie II’s life. The reason why I say that is because he is a beautiful, dark blue and red betta fish, no connection to the memorial glass ball. The breed’s longevity is good for two years, max. I don’t know about you, but I plan on being around long after Neptune calls Jackie II to the great shoreline in the sky. He is named in honor of Jackie Robinson, his antecedent, who lived briefly in Hoboken, New Jersey with my grandson.

Prior to the placement of his habitat, an hourglass with wide hips and short neck, everything around here were lifeless objects coming alive in my memory, but otherwise quite still. Now, there is actual life, shape-shifting as the iridescent, silent one puts Fred Astaire to shame with such spontaneous grace.

I can’t say that I ever know where one of my stories will go, probably owing to my poor planning skills and incredibly limited talent. I knew for certain I had to write about this singular upheaval in my entire way of life. However, I had no idea where the betta bomb would take us. When I got up to take a walk-in-circles break, it came at me like a perfectly, slow-pitched strike. It’s about appreciating all the small stuff, taking joy whenever you can, especially these days.

I spend huge amounts of time sitting right here, with all these things looking at me simultaneously. Adding life to this chorus of memorabilia has become very entertaining. Now, when Gregg Allman wails the Blues out of those little, black speakers, undulating Jackie II is finning and fanning a show-stopping routine.

I am glad I wrote this fish story and shared it with you.

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