When Sarah Sams emailed me from Golden, Colorado with a story about her grandmother's goldfish, I wished I could jump on a plane and fly to meet her. Instead, she volunteered to be our first reader-submitted video guinea pig, and her kind neighbor shot and edited this video. Big thanks to both of them - and we hope it inspires you to do the same! We'd love to feature a one-minute video of your Favorite Thing on the site!• The Star: Sarah Sams is a Colorado artist and illustrator, designing illustrations, paintings, sculpture, and ceramic art in a South Texas Tex-Mex style she calls Mexi-Czech (here's a link to her etsy shop!). She is also a big Apartment Therapy fan and a real sport for trying this - big thanks to her and to her neighbor Annette Hayden who filmed and edited this video!
• The Story: My Glass Goldfish--A Fish Out of Water
My grandmother's house was a place that fueled my imagination. On the glass shelves in her French-paned-windowed sunroom and in the basement with the 1950s aqua blue cement walls, my grandmother housed her collection of seashells. It included large, fancy, and enchanting shells that were unlike any I had ever found on childhood searches along the beaches of Padre Island in South Texas where we lived. And sitting in the midst of these shelves was a clear glass goldfish with orange fins. In some years when my family visited, I found "my fish" on the shelves in the basement, and in other years, on the shelves in the sunroom. Until I was an adult when she moved it to the window ledge over the kitchen sink, I always recall it "swimming" in the midst of the shells.
The enchantment of my grandmother's house continued into her gardens where another huge connection to this glass goldfish awaited me. Surrounding her 1920's Georgian-style Atlanta home, my grandmother's English style gardens included flowers unlike those we could grow in Corpus Christi and a cement pond that was filled with small goldfish and water plants. Although I could run down the path, through the strawberry patch, hunt for blooming lily of the valley, pick pansies and daffodils, swing in the hammock, sit under the arbor, and visit the pond as often as my parents would allow, I could only feed the fish once each day. And that privilege had to be shared with any siblings and cousins who were around at the time.
Explaining that the fish needed only one meal per day and "only so much food" was a problem that my grandmother solved by utilizing her love for literature. Over and over she would read us Margaret Palmer's classic children's book, A Fish Out of Water, which creatively shares the story of what happens when a boy feeds a fish too much food, and it grows too large for its bowl. This book became one of my childhood favorites, and the glass goldfish, a symbol of everything that fueled my creative imagination when I visited my grandmother's house.
My grandmother handed down to me some shared passions -for gardens and flowers, a fascination with shells and sea creatures, and a love of reading and writing stories. She also supported my artistic and creative side, shipping me all of her art books when her eyes could no longer easily read them in her old age. And so with one single object, this glass goldfish symbolizes both my relationship with her and the passions of my life--my passion for telling stories through writing and art, and my oft chosen content to paint both shells and flowers.
Yet there is also another strong connection in my life for this glass goldfish and the related A Fish Out of Water book. As an artist, I feel like I am "a fish out of water" if I am not creating. Then I'm attempting to live outside of the water in which I thrive. And so this simple fish reminds me to feed my passions daily. Create! And fortunately, if I happen to feed my "fish" more than once a day....well, just wait and see what happens.
If you live somewhere else in the world, would you consider videotaping yourself? Email us (Rebecca@apartmenttherapy.com) and we'll tell you how!!
More posts in this series
My Favorite Thing Video Series