A Sea of Off-Season Feelings

Umbrellas in winter? Balaclavas in July? Show us what “off-season” means to you.

Endless, lazy summer months spent at the seaside as a child made me take it for granted. The sea was there, it was that place you returned to as soon as the summer holiday started, to only go back home at the end of August. Not only did I not think too much about it or consider myself lucky, I was often bored with it. What, didn’t all kids my age feel the same? Didn’t they all see it my way? Well, I couldn’t care less whether they did or not. By mid-July I would already be sick and tired of forced happiness and socialization. The constant repetition of what other experienced for a few days, maybe a week or two at most, was getting to be exhausting; so the older I got, the harder I worked on reducing my summer seaside ‘sentence’.

I’m sure there were children out there with a deep understanding of nature and of those pitfalls of human emotion and it must have been those children who wandered what the sea looked like in winter. Since I was definitely not that gifted, I neither wondered, nor cared about it – the sea and its conundrums were something to be dealt with in the summer and I was not going to worry about it beforehand.

My eyes first met the grey hues of the winter sea when I was a teenager – and it was one of those profound revelatory feelings that only a teenager can fully experience. I would go for a walk, I told everybody, I wanted to see the sea. I knew they wouldn’t say no, I had done my part and kept up appearances, the way I was supposed to; I hadn’t asked for anything the entire time and I knew such a I wouldn’t be refused such small demand favour. After all, I wasn’t the only one who needed to keep up appearances, the adults had to do the same and I knew I could ask for anything at that point. But much as the angry teenager wanted to take advantage of their moment of weakness, I couldn’t overcome my pride and self-respect – I wanted to gain nothing from that particular context. I would play my part, but I wanted nothing in return. Nothing but a few moments alone, walking on the beach in the cold breeze, so I could gather my thoughts.

Knowing exactly when, how, why and which appearances needed to be maintained in society was almost instinctive behaviour in our family – that’s probably why my timing was always impeccable when choosing to misbehave and be nothing more than my outspoken self. However, that particular trip at the seaside would not be such a time, as the entire family was playing the appearance game.

I could hear the roar of the waves before I could see them and once I felt the compact wet sand under my boots, I could finally relax. I could finally breathe, even if the frozen, salty air hurt my lungs. The strong wind was something I hadn’t experienced before, but neither that, nor the several patches of snow on the sand felt out of place. The sea was rough, loud and grey – no pretence, no mask, no pretty, sweet summer delight – a force of nature through its own unpleasant, lonely honesty. For the first time in days I could feel my face muscles relax as the pressure of false, socially acceptable smiles and looks dissipated. Being myself, whatever that might have meant, was not only acceptable, but advisable; and for the first time ever I was able to acknowledge and accept that the sea was part of my soul – that grey, wild see, whose roar was the most calming noise I had ever heard. As I was finally walking away, the frozen wind lashing my face, I felt serene, at peace with myself and everybody else. I knew would miss that view. But I also knew somehow, eventually, I had to find my way back not only to that place, but to that sort of inner peace.

Those moments of tranquility don’t last long, I learnt over the years… at least not for me, I’m not that kind of person. But I still go and stare at the sea – especially at the deserted, grey, off season sea – whenever I need to clear my mind.

20 Replies to “A Sea of Off-Season Feelings”

      1. Your welcome and I understand the longing of the sea once we grow older. I too had memories of summer escapades when I was a kid. Our home made from The Molave tree stood at the lips of Sarangani bay at Philippine. Everyday I sat there for like eternity. I cherish it as long as I live. Now I’m grown, had family, work abroad, and incident that wrecked our house down from tornado, still nothing to stop me to go visit there everyday wherever God put me at the moment. I close my eyes and I could hear the roar of the waves, the steady wind lash on my face and the sun went down into it, leaving a spectacular sights of lights that you do not know the feeling of joy and sadness like they are one.

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        1. It sounds like such a beautiful place and your words paint such a touching image… Life can take many things away from us, but we can consider ourselves lucky when we can keep those special places and experiences in our hearts and see them vividly whenever we need to. And those moments when we travel back and revisit our own past can be heartbreaking and heartwarming at the same time… Thank for sharing those special memories!

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  1. It was such a wonderful post and the exquisite photographs just made it perfect. The satisfaction and grace of the time spent alone cannot be depicted more accurately. Simply loved the imagery you painted by your words.
    Thank you so much, Ana for stopping by my blog which led me to this wonderful space of yours. Hope to see you again 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Your very detailed descriptions made me feel like if I was actually there! And as a young person myself, I can completely understand that yearning to be alone, to be myself. Great job Anna! I will be looking forward to more.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you 🙂 It’s always nice to find people who can relate to our experience. The need to be alone, have time for myself, by myself is still part of who I am… even now, so many years later.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. …..whenever I need to clear my mind…..the deserted, grey off season sea…..beautiful images.
    Wonderful description of a teenager’s angst….really lke this.

    Liked by 2 people

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