Killing Fish

I'd slept like a pig and broken all the self-made resolutions. Why even take the Adderall, I wondered?
ADHD & the City | posted by Jane D.
Jane D.

I almost killed the betta fish. Blame it on the really long and awful date last weekend with the 35-year-old virgin (or closet gay guy).

We've been having swim and breakfast dates since November, and he hasn't made a single move. There's the polite farewell hug, and he insists on picking up the tab, but I'm starting to feel like I'm driving through a heavy fog.

Should I risk a friendship, and ask him flat out if he likes me? The sister says that, for some reason, I always need things clear-cut, like the black and white cookies. "Maybe it's your ADD," she said. Maybe. I'm not sure if he's a 35-year-old virgin, but given that he's never bothered to hold my hand or even kiss me, I think he's just weird.

We waited on line in front of the museum for almost two hours, in the wind tunnel of Fifth Avenue. The weather has been freaky, bipolar. It's May and it feels like March. Sara, my new wing girl from church, came to wait on line with us, and to meet "the guy." She's all outgoing and chirpy and tried to entertain the guy with her bad jokes and bad dating stories. He laughed hard… maybe he liked her.

Anyway, we waited in the cold, shivering, whining about the weather; an hour passed and then another half an hour. I wanted to go home. I was cold, bored. I wanted to sit before a warm fireplace someplace in Lake Placid, somewhere in the arms of the ex-lover.

This was a popular event at the museum; the city's tres chic crowd had come out to dance and drink inside. It was a good idea, but it was fast fizzling like the thousand other ideas I had. "I'm kind of cold, I'm not sure if I want to go in," the wing girl said. I was so thankful she'd said that. We slipped out of the line and called it a night.

Then yesterday morning, Marilyn the fish didn't move. I tapped the half-drunken can of Diet Coke against the bowl, and before I knew it, there was a clink, a hole in the bowl, and the water and pebbles rushing out like a tsunami—and the fish, nowhere to be found. Shit. It was surreal. Was I dreaming this?

I combed the floor on my knees, searching for Marilyn. After what seemed like an eternity, I lifted the computer and saw it there, barely moving. I grabbed the bowl of grapes from the fridge, threw the grapes out, poured water into the bowl and threw the fish in there. It was dead. I had killed it. But then I saw a fin move and an eye blink. It had come to life again. The resurrection of Marilyn.

I was relieved, but, at the same time, alarmingly aware of how things were starting to spin out of control again. It was 11:15 a.m. I'd slept like a pig and broken all of the resolutions that I'd made. "rink everything I pour." "No Internet after 10 p.m." Why even bother taking the Adderall, I wondered?

After dealing with the fish crisis, I found myself running around like a chicken with its head cut off. I had the marathon of swim lessons starting at noon. I found myself running to the pool, breathless and trying to contain the anxiety as I walked up to student number one and tried to muster a faux smile. I wondered if she knew how harried everything was, how I'd overslept the alarm, almost killed the fish, and how I ran seven blocks to make the lesson. I was four minutes late, but made it nonetheless.

I felt myself wanting to beat myself up again, but decided that life was too short. I'd made it. I’d taught the beginners how to float, and I'd taught a really scared woman how to blow bubbles.

She told me how a lifeguard had playfully pushed her into a pool when she was little, and how she's been traumatized since. "You're doing fine," I said to her. "You're doing great," I said to her after she had gotten into the pool and went under the water on the count of three. In the end, I found myself smiling once again. We were both trying our best.

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