on reading the signs

by Leah Monsour


recently i developed a crush on a salmon fisherman after engaging in a very short but memorable conversation. i knew very little about him. the very little i knew, i had caught through two screenings with his films, both about fishing, and through instagram, where he comically posted 99% fish content. so yeah, most of what i knew was fish.

but the crush was strong and so fish i saw. and i mean it. suddenly, fish were everywhere. fish symbols on everything, fish being offered to me, conversations about fish happening as i walked into rooms, paid work documenting a painting with fish in it, an album with “fishman” in the title playing at a tattoo appointment...it was often enough to feel overwhelming and even annoying.

at the time, i assumed that this meant i needed to swim to him, although in reality all my efforts to do so fell short. the day he was going to visit me at the farmers market, the guy at the fish booth offered me salmon. by the time i went to collect, it was sold out, and he never showed. he didn’t come to my halloween party. we didn’t match on tinder. quickly it became clear that we were swimming in different channels. the currents i thought i’d picked up on weren’t strong enough. then, the psychic told me that i hadn’t met my soulmate yet, and she had been right about everything else...

regardless i kept seeing fish, and so began a new search for meaning.

given my hyperfocus and the tight grip needed to hang on to a slippery fish, i had been missing something: the reality of my romantic situation at the time. i was entangled with someone who i knew to be very monogamous, and it was evolving slowly and cautiously. it was comfortable, easy. he was kind. stable. an artist. let’s call him boy (B). the night the crush was sparked, i invited B to join me at the party, but he was asleep. then, i had my lightning strike connection. as is true in the course of many failed relationships, the missing pieces were served to me on a new-man-shaped platter, this time with a side of fish.

what had been missing with B was a certain excitement. i had a taste of it that night and i didn’t look back. the current had taken me. i received a kind message from B the next morning, but i was already strategizing ways to catch my new crush.

fast forward down the stream a bit. i grew more and more certain of the need to set him free. the ick rarely evaporates. my pining for the fisherman had waned, i had seen the psychic, and my focus shifted again from dream world to reality. but i was still seeing fish.

on a weeknight i met up with B and his friend with the intention of breaking things off, but the conversation took a different turn. he told me he wanted to see more of me. he wanted to go to the Met like we had talked about months prior. what day was good for me? i had been drinking and he was sweet. i thought, i should give him another shot before i let him off the hook. i invited him to stay at mine with a twinge of uncertainty. plus i had a yeast infection: a safety net, and a sign from the benevolent universe.

so there i found myself, late at night, in the kitchen fetching some water. there i found myself,
turning to him as he entered the room in his boxers. there i found myself, water in hand, glancing down at said boxers. and there the boxers found themselves, covered in a pattern. a pattern of none other than: fish.

the boxers stayed on that night and the next morning. it was too weird. i ended things a couple days later. and after this, the fish slowed.

i never went on a date with the fisherman and i never really tried. maybe reading the signs is
about tapping into both the dream world and reality. two points of contact. if i had done that from the start, maybe i would have known what the fish were there to tell me: just keep swimming. there are, in fact, other fish in the sea.

Leah Monsour is a time based media maker living in in ridgewood, queens. ig: @its_leah__baby___ / tw: @rlyniceguyirl