Some might think it dull, lying here on the mud, under feathery sediment and meters of silty water in only the few weak rays of sun that pierce through. But I find that here I can meditate in the semi-dark. That though my eyes are on the top of my head and my mouth unfortunately sideways, my mind is at peace with the ever-present gloaming.
I understand the symbolism, a flounder, when as a man it was all I could ever do at anything I tried. Floundering in my work as a tour guide (I recently launched into a description of the Rialto Bridge while at the Basilica di San Marco, panicked, and ended the tour early in a fit of sneezing), floundering to be a father (I just sent my daughter to school with her dress on backwards) and, most crucially, floundering in love (in fact the last woman I was with turned out to be a witch with a penchant for piscine metaphor).
We met at the Torrefazione Cannaregio while waiting for orders. I took her drink by accident and when she said, ‘I think that one’s actually mine,’ I was so startled I dropped it. There had been a fragile, floating heart drawn in the milk, destroyed by my clumsiness, which I now realize was probably a portent of her impermanent love.
At first she found my ineptitude endearing. ‘Oh Giovanni, I find your ineptitude so very endearing,’ she cooed, as though I were a young boy proffering a bouquet of daisies with all the petals missing. ‘Oh Giovanni,’ as I tripped over my shoelaces or tried to open the ‘Push’ door by pulling – repeatedly.
(For the record, my name is not Giovanni, but she is American and wanted to call me something authentic. Now, with my little fish brain, I can’t actually remember what my other name was. It seems she must have in fact uncovered some essential truth about the Giovanni-ness at my core… I must remember to ruminate on this point more.)
In any case, with time I wore on her. I promised I’d try harder to please her. But I couldn’t remember to chew with my mouth closed, couldn’t cook her favorite pasta con nero di seppia correctly, couldn’t even sit-for-once-normally-without-that-irritating-expression-on-my-gormless-face at the dinner table.
And then one day she snapped. When I once again couldn’t find the right places to touch her in bed she pushed me off of her, stood up, and transformed me with three snaps of her fingers, a flip of the curls and a thwick. Before I knew it I had been tossed out the window into the canal.
So here I rest, comforted by one fact: flounders don’t actually appear to flounder. As a fish, I am, in fact, finally meeting expectations. And I’m content to lie here with my thoughts – amongst rocks and dirt and hundred year old trash, camouflaged forever against the ocean floor.