I take a left and there it is, vast, deep, seemingly endless, stretching under my eyes – the sea. I love to travel, but I have a small ritual whenever I return. I have to see the sea, as soon as possible. Trite as it may sound, it’s reassuring. It’s calming. It’s home… and there is a certain kind of safety and security in knowing you are tethered to a place, no matter how much of a wonderer you may be.
I wasn’t born here, but this is my place, my home. It adopted me from the moment I decided I would move here… or perhaps I adopted it, with all its beauty and flaws. First I would always say, “I live here… for now.” The idea of committing to a place for more than a few years seemed restricting, stifling, boring… Then I finally accepted what was already my reality – this place had become a part of me, and that was not a bad thing. In fact, it was a relief. I could allow myself to wonder and still have a safe place where I could come back. I could say, “I live here. This is my home.” I also knew that didn’t mean it had to be forever. One can’t really tell what the future holds…
Like me, it’s far from perfect. It doesn’t have the most impressive architecture. It could have more parks, more museums, more theatres… But it does have the sea… and when coming home, it’s always comforting to breathe in the salty air, to hear the seagulls and feel that annoying humid breeze mess up my hair.
Then there’s the atmosphere… This is by far my favourite region of the country. I could see myself living in another country; I could also see myself living here for the rest of my life; but I cannot see myself living in another corner of this country. Kind is not one of the first words that come to mind when describing the people here, not as a society. Neither is empathetic. Real? Yes, definitely. Self-centred, fun loving, often materialistic, certainly more open-minded than in other parts of the country, dark and incredibly bright at the same time, that’s them. But what I like most is that on the whole, they don’t pretend to be a much nicer group than they are; on the contrary, they take pride in their identity. This is why I felt I could fit in from the very first moment. One often needs to be rude, loud and pushy first, only to be able to create a context where one can then be polite, decent and respected. Otherwise there’s a good chance one will be devoured or at least stepped all over from the very beginning.
The question is, will I always feel the same way? Slowing down is rarely an option, there’s a constant sensation that you need to catch up, no matter how hard you’re trying. And it’s not only me or those here coming from other parts of the country. I’ve seen it in everybody; some don’t bother to hide it, others go to extreme lengths to do so. Regardless, there’s a constant drive to keep up with someone or something, no matter who or what you are.
So exactly what you love the most can become exhausting. Infuriating. Frustrating. It’s like that with people, it’s like that with places… That’s when I most need the vastness of the sea, the perspective it provides.