There is a strange psychological effect on people who grew up by the sea. Not in every case; but for many, the idea of living away from an edge is something they struggle with. I definitely fall into this category.
Seaside people need the land to end. They need that boundary, a cut-off point. Rolling hills, lush forests, fields and meadows are all lovely. Cities full of people and bustle are exciting and vibrant. But we seasiders require water. We need the waves to lap against the shore of our home; the horizon to exist at the point where the sea meets the sky.
I love living by the sea, and I wouldn’t change it for anything. I could move anywhere in the world, as long as it was on the coast. Where I happen to live, where I was born, is a former island called Thanet. It used to be completely separate from the rest of country until a few hundred years ago when the channel finally filled with silt. Thanet has the great benefit of being surrounded on three sides by water. We have the mainland to the west which prevents us getting claustrophobic on this little isle; but the north, east, and south all lead to the oceans. This is a truly remarkable place, an island that is not an island.
The water is something we often take for granted. It is there every day, and we sometimes ignore it, yet when we leave and go inland its absence is notable. Whenever I am away from the coast I can tell – the air smells and tastes different. The lack of salt in the atmosphere, the silence normally filled with the cries of gulls and the crash of waves, the sun descending into the land instead of the water, it feels off. I love the sea, and the closer I am to it whilst remaining on solid ground, the more I am at home.
It even inspires me, every now and again, to express my connection with it through words. I have written poetry, prose, articles, stories; all about the sea. I am drawn to it and I cannot look away.
I often indulge the water by submerging myself in the ocean. I walk out into it, as far as I can, then lay back and let myself float as the sun is setting. The view is incredible; the sinking sun from the water’s surface is a stunning sight. Afterwards I return to the beach to watch the final moments of the sunset, and often as the glowing orb slips beneath the ocean a green flash appears from the refraction of the light. That is something you would not see inland, and a memory I will cherish for years to come.
The ocean, to me, is a comfort. It is my environment. It is home.
Seb Reilly is an writer, fiction author and occasional musician. He lives by the sea in Kent with his family and two cats, and when he is not writing he enjoys music and film.