The house I lived in off the coast was very lonely. It perched atop a long cliff at the furthest point, from which I could see the sea deep below. In the mornings, I would watch the waves churn over the rocks, black and glossy. Every day the fisherman cast out nets on the choppy water and brought back the fish, silvery and sinewy. At the market, they were laid out perpendicularly – their mouths still agape. You would stare at their fins and scales and see the color of your clothes reflected back at you. How shiny and fresh they were.
It was a small coastal town where houses were few and far in between, and everything about the town developed according to the sea. The roads sloped outwards to the coastline, and when it was dark, the only striking beam of light was from a lighthouse navigating fishing boats home.
It was a town of salt, that crystallized on roadsides, on the telephone wires running south, on the tops of poles and buildings. Where the water, even filtered, had a briny note to it that settled deep within the throat. You fell asleep and woke up with a taste you couldn't swallow. All night, you could hear nothing but water, the rivulets cutting into the land.
When I lived by the sea I realized that the sea moves you, and moves through you. It choreographs your movements, instincts, and desires. Maybe that's why I recount that this was a time in my life where moments of fear met moments of longing. I reflected back what the ocean gave to me. A fear of the waves that crashed below in quick succession, and yet a strange longing to be within them.
I began to understand that this is a fundamental fact of life: fear and longing are always intertwined in an impossible bind. You cannot have one without the other. You must yield to both.