One thing everyone knows about me, is that I am a big fan of the sea. I feel a real affinity with it. I find it incredibly calming and centering.
The photo above shows my brother and niece mucking about in the shallows. To me, the sea has always had strong ties to family. I have great memories of my two brothers and I diving in the waves when we were little. For a time, our grandparents had a place in a small seaside town, and these days mum has a place at the beach. I’ll move seaside myself one day. Hopefully sooner than later.
For the Weekly Photo Challenge.
I have been dog-sitting the last few days. He’s a… something. I don’t even know what breed. A mix of some terrier and a Maltese, I think. His name is Riley. He is 12 years old. He is the quietest thing ever. We hit it off straight away.
After greeting him with a pat and a tummy scratch, I let him follow me into the house and I sat down in front of the television. Without a noise he wandered dutifully over to the sofa and curled up between my feet on the floor. He has not been interested in anybody else since. He has not wanted to leave my side. He is asleep under my chair as I write this now. We have an understanding.
I took him with me to the beach. I figured he would like that. He did. I said ‘walk’ and he picked up his leash in his mouth and sauntered towards the door. Neat trick.
He wasn’t so sure about the beach though. It was as if the poor guy had never seen the seaside before. At first he loved it. The sand didn’t bother him. He was enjoying the sea breeze. And then he ran into some seaweed.
Well, he did NOT know what to make of that stuff. But he knew he did not trust it. He gave every clump of seaweed after that an extremely wide berth. Anytime he got close to one, he would jump back, as if it was alive and ready to pounce at him. I have never seen anything like it. He is such a softy.
Then we reached the steps again. He was fine coming down them earlier. Not so sure about going up. He tried the first two and then stopped, giving me as worried an expression as you can get across a dog’s face. He looked up at me as if to say, ‘are you going to carry me or what?’
So I did. I carried the sook up the entire flight of steps.
We went back the next morning. He wasn’t so afraid now. As if overnight he had realized everything was okay here and he could trust me completely. He no longer paid the seaweed any mind, and he bolted up the steps, until wearing himself out. He crawled up the last few.
I only have a few more hours with him now. I’ll miss the guy. And I think he’ll miss his trips to the beach. Oh well, I may have to dog-nap him one day and take him for some more revenge on the seaweed monsters.
The feeling I get whenever I return to the coast is unmistakable. It’s a feeling of belonging. A feeling of home. Everything is clearer when I’m at the coast.
I stayed at the family beach house this weekend. It’s perfect when I feel like getting away. When I feel like thinking. When I feel like peace, quiet and clarity. I know it sounds crazy, but my back hurts less there. It really does.
I have been having some serious back issues lately. All the years of constant sport, in particular the indoor soccer goalkeeping, has caught up with me. My back is never free from pain. Though, I could not help but notice as I lay in the quiet house last night, that it was not sore. I mean, it was not perfect all day, but for at least half of it, I felt good. I felt more alive. Less pained. It was as if the sea has soothing powers. It was as if the sea thought if it took care of me I would stay a while. Maybe take care of it.
I also noticed, as I lay at ease on the surprisingly comfortable double bed in the guest room, that my head is so much clearer there. The thoughts flow freely. Processing thought is not a chore as it is in the city. Away from the sea I feel… almost heavy. As if I am not where I am meant to be. As if not being there is a burden. Somewhat suffocated. As if there is no space to think, or to comprehend.
And as my mind wandered freely, I gazed up at the picture that hung on the wall beside the bed. A picture I had admired so many times. This time though, I noticed something new about it. It had the feeling of home.
The picture depicts an oyster shed by a wharf. In the distance there are several boats floating on the ocean – yachts and rowboats. An orange Kombi is parked besides a jetty, where a couple sit, dangling their feet in the water and fishing. And I always stare at that simple picture with the same look. A Look I didn’t recognize in myself until last night. A look of longing. A look that feels like within that frame is home. That makes me feel like if I’m anywhere else, I’m lost.
And I realized… I have felt lost for a long time. Far too long.