Growing up in Calgary I was often met with a raised eyebrow when I made the statement, “I miss the ocean.”
“How can you miss the ocean? You were born and live in a landlocked Province.”
Now that I live in London the ocean is in closer proximity but still not easily accessible, and still I will say, “I miss the ocean.”
I don’t think you need to grow up with something to be able to miss it. I don’t actually have any tangible memories of my first encounter with the sea. I was about four and there are photos taken on a family vacation in which I am a happy little fish frolicking in the waves. But from that moment on, the ocean and I became best friends. I have an affinity with it and anytime I take a tropical holiday, no matter the country, culture or food I may encounter, the single thing I look forward to the most is playing with my dear, old friend.
From the moment I can hear the gentle shifting of sand as water slides in and out, the flowing of the current and changing of the tide, I can think of little else about my surroundings. I will explore the hotel, wander local shops, and all the while my mind will be on the first moment when I can set foot into those beautiful waves calling me to play.
I will walk down to meet my friend, enjoying the warm sand beneath my feet, the way it changes from soft to firm as I move from sun baked and dry to ocean soaked and mucky. The sand squishes beneath my feet and oozes up between my toes, all the while the waves rush up to meet me, asking me to join them. And then I can’t help but run, to splash into the water and feel the layers of it - the sun warmed surface and the refreshing cool of the incoming tide. I let it splash up my legs as I gallop through it and then I fall, collapsing into the wonderful liquid, tasting that intense saltiness on my lips, feeling the swell of it play in my hair, pushing against its ebb and flow with my arms and legs.
Oh and the toys it has. The delights and discoveries to be found! Swimming under the waves and exploring the abundance of colourful and strange creatures never ceases to amaze me. Glorious parrot fish, neon anemones, shoals of squid, foreboding barracuda.
And then, out of the sea, the things it has pushed forth, the little discoveries to be found on an evening walk lit by a burning bright orange sun. The delicate remains of creatures that seem almost otherworldly. The unusual and almost sad blob of an unfortunate jelly fish. The perfect daisy shaped dots on a sand dollar.
Or the things which live at that edge of the sea, living off the land and waves in equal measure. An intricate and beautiful shell which is home to a hermit crab. The odd and delightful little sand crabs which make stunning works of art as they filter food from the sand and discard it in little balls. An equally as odd crab with spinning fins which can bury itself deep into the wet sand in a matter of seconds.
Then there is that smell. That fresh, salty sea air which blows in over the waves. Invigorating, enlivening, gorgeous.
How can I miss the ocean?
How could I not?