Once upon a time you would have heard me confidently stating that city life was the life for me. The activity, the lights, the constant movement and opportunity. You might also have heard me announce my disdain for the seaside.
I can’t place my finger on the root of it now, but I just remember it putting me on edge. Perhaps it was a fear of the water, or dislike of beachy decor, I don’t know. But it got to the point where I’d even avoid books or films set by the sea, so as not to subject myself to the mention of it.
Fast forward to the present day, and my feelings about the seaside have changed. My love has flourished. This city boy, who once proclaimed that he’d never move from London, has fallen head over heels for the coastline. I’ve even started to find myself daydreaming about, someday, moving to be closer to it.
When I think about where I’m happiest, it’s by the ocean. Of course it will be mixed with the feelings of getting away, away from work and from responsibility. But I can confidently say that some of my most cherished moments happen to feature a sweeping expanse of salt water as their backdrop.
A recent adventure to Brighton with my boyfriend, exploring and refreshing our batteries. Dreamy days and vibrant nights at the very tip of southern Spain with my best friends. And, way back, family weekends in Rye, Winchelsea and Hastings, sitting on the beach with my Grandma, sifting through the pebbles, rocks and stones, collecting our favourites.
These are my happy places, the memories that I hark back to when I’m anxious or stressed, when I need to be lifted and reminded of the good times.
That great expanse of ocean, stretching as far as the eye can see, kissing the sky at the horizon, is utterly grounding. It’s an endless pool, rolling on forever. It stretches on to new adventure and down into depths that are beyond the capacity of our imaginations. It soothes, refreshes and cleanses the soul. It has provided for us, in so many ways, for so many centuries.
I guess this is kind of a love letter to the sea. And it’s far from complete. I imagine that my love will continue to grow as the years go on. Perhaps I’ll live beside it one day, greeting it each morning with a casual glance and a smile. Or perhaps my path will take me elsewhere, my meetings with it fewer and further between, each visit being a happy reunion with an old, deeply missed friend.
Whatever happens, I’m glad to know that it’ll always be there, constantly reaching out to shore, unceasingly running back to the horizon.
That, at least, is some comfort.