sunday scribblings: ocean

Prompt #58: Ocean

Ah, the ocean. Many have fond memories of going to the beach as a child, frolicking in the sand, building sandcastles, getting tossed around in the waves.

Not me.

I remember going to Atlantic City with my grandmother once when I was small, but we didn’t actually get near the water as it was too cold. And yes, for those in the Mid-Atlantic region of the US, I’m talking about “going to the shore” here. Cheesesteaks optional but advised.

So my first time near a large body of water was in college when some friends and I went to Morehead City (accent on the first syllable; make your own jokes please), North Carolina. Is that possible? Nearly 20 years of my life without knowing the ocean?

Entirely. From the middle of Pennsylvania, where I am from, the ocean is several hours away; those from the Midwest may have even more dramatic horror stories. Add to that a family that was never, say, enamored with the water or vacations, and it’s not too hard to understand. Of course it is a bit strange if you consider that I now live minutes from the crystal clear Ionian Sea, a northern Italian and European holiday hotspot.

So when I was 19 years old, I got thrown around by the waves of the Atlantic Ocean for the first time. Scary at the start, but then simply glorious. Being flipped and turned beyond your control really puts the world into perspective for anyone, let alone a 19-year-old college kid.

I remember feeling so small, insignificant, powerless. And happy. Deliriously happy.

It was the perfect time to feel and understand that I was just a tiny piece of the larger puzzle of the world. At the time, I was attending an ultra-competitive university with students who often fit every stereotype you could imagine; it was easy to get suckered into thinking that every decision, including actually eating dinner instead of having half of a plain baked potato, would affect my Entire Future.

Should I continue with German? Should I double major? Should I break down and take a math course? Can I fit in another part-time job? This was critical stuff!

Having nothing to do but lie on the beach, read some novels, and frolic, yes frolic, in the water was the perfect wind-down to another physically and emotionally draining school year; as it turned out, my introduction to the ocean happened exactly when I needed it and, perhaps more importantly, when I was ready to accept it.

I think that when you haven’t grown up with something, your adult years can either find you strangely drawn toward it or still keeping your distance.

With the ocean, I’m somewhere in between. I’m not afraid of the water, although I’ll admit I’m not entirely comfortable on a boat where I can no longer see land. If you haven’t guessed, I’ve never been on a cruise, but I’d welcome the chance if, you know, I won one or something.

On the other hand, I’m definitely not addicted to the sea either–a minor sin here, in fact, where I’m asked nearly every day in the summer if I had gone “al mare,” to the sea. Thank goodness I found P, who isn’t appassionato either, proving one of P’s (and now my) favorite sayings: “Dio li fa e poi li accoppia.” This is the equivalent of our “birds of a feather flock together,” but literally (and much prettier, I think): “God makes them and then matches them up.”

So while not al mare every day, I do enjoy quiet times at the beach when there are few others around. Lucky for me, Italians are quite rigid on when they go to the beach, so those early March and late September days? The beach and the moist, salty air? Pretty much all mine.

I imagine this might change a bit if I have children, though, because I would want them to be comfortable with the water and have all those sweet, frolicky memories that so many others have–although building sandcastles probably isn’t going to happen on our beaches here.

And so, I am at peace with the fact that the ocean and I have a bit of a strained relationship. I wouldn’t die if I wasn’t near it, but then again, that crisp, fresh air and cool water feels oh so good when the sun is warming my cheeks and shoulders (properly covered in sunscreen, of course).

But for now I’ll continue to take it in small doses until the Ionian, which surely knows more than I, pulls me to know it a little better.

And then I will open myself up to whatever it has to offer.

P.S. You can find more images of the sea here.


[tags]ocean, sea, ionian sea, badolato[/tags]

30 Beans of Wisdom to “sunday scribblings: ocean”
  1. Anonymous

    Thank you so much for your wonderful blog. I have many wonderful memories of the sea growing up. And they all take me back to the Ionian Sea (Ciro’ Marina) where I would spend my summers visiting my grandparents and uncles. We would spend hours there trying to spot jelly fish; playing in the water; and eating warm Nutella sandwiches.

    Your blog has made me home sick for the sea. It has made me long for the carefree days of youth.


  2. Annika

    I could never live without the sea at least somewhat close by. I can’t imagine living without ever breathing that salty sea breeze.. that scent alone makes me happy.

  3. Fran

    Next week I will be vacationing at Pawleys Island, SC with a couple of my best friends. Want to join us? We will have our sunscreen, lounge chairs, sunglasses, books and enough juicy conversation to make you crave the beach! I do love the salty sea smell….

  4. sognatrice

    Marlena, benvenuta! I’m glad I sparked some good memories for you, and actually, I know there’s at least one other person who reads my blog with roots in CirΓ² Marina…small world πŸ™‚

    Annika, I think I, on the other hand, couldn’t live where there were no mountains, as that’s what I’m used to. Miles and miles (or kilometers and kilometers) of flat land would drive me crazy, I think. Lucky for me, we have mountains in southern Italy too.

    Fran, sounds like fun! Think of me, and I’ll be there in spirit!

  5. J.Doe

    You mean ‘going DOWN to shore’ which is perfect New Jerysyan vernacular for going ‘to the beach (or shore)’ in standard English. But Atlantic City is not a beach to start a love of the Ocean with anyway.
    I have lived by an ocean most of my life and I miss it now, since I live in the desert 1000 miles from it.

  6. sognatrice

    JDoe, yes, “going down the shore” is another way for us central Pennsylvanians to say it as well. Actually I’m not very fond of any beach I’ve been to in New Jersey, but I didn’t want to offend anyone πŸ˜‰

  7. Crafty Green Poet

    Being in the UK, we’re never far from the sea! I’m a bit like you, I love the sea, but don’t really love being out of sight of land, though i quite like sailing / ferry trips. I love the Italian coast!

  8. BecsLifeOnline

    Thanks for sharing this with us πŸ™‚ I don’t live very close to the sea but it’s only about an hour away. Then again, it’s always too cold to go in it here, even in the summer!

  9. Self Taught Artist

    With the ocean, I’m somewhere in between. I’m not afraid of the water, although I’ll admit I’m not entirely comfortable on a boat where I can no longer see land.
    I couldn’t agree more. Not being able to see land would freak me out.
    good post~

  10. Anonymous

    This post was really beautiful. Thanks. I absolutely cannot wait to float in the Mediterranean again this summer.

  11. Mardougrrl

    I really liked the tone you took in this post…cool and crisp, much like the ocean itself. And no, I’m not very fond of the beaches in NJ either, and I grew up there!

  12. JennDZ

    I absolutely love the beach and try to get there every chance I get. I live in Florida, but I am at least 1 1/2 hours from any beach – why did my family have to settle for mid florida?!

    So funny, because I am doing a beach post this week on my blog. I swear sometimes we are of such a similar mind!

    Where in PA did you grow up?
    My family is from Western PA.

  13. Bongga Mom

    The sea you live near to looks like a great place to get your feet wet, so to speak, with respect to getting to know the ocean better — it seems so calm and friendly and sunny, like nothing bad would ever happen in it! Maybe I could try sailing there πŸ™‚ BTW I especially love your photo with the little yellow boat in it.

  14. angel

    wonderful post- incredible pictures!

  15. alexmom

    Small world…’re not kidding!!! Another reader connected to Ciro’ Marina.The internet really is amazing! Would love to compare notes with Marlena, if she’s interested.
    Thank you for providing my daily dose of Calabria. Don’t know how I ever lived without it. Abbraccione for you and P….and Luna.


  16. John Kaiser

    “So my first time near a large body of water was in college when some friends and I went to Morehead City”

    It made me chuckle when I heard about it during my first year at UNCW.

  17. Kali

    I absolutely love the ocean, even though I’ve never lived anywhere near it. I remember when my parents would take me there I never wanted to leave. I still feel that way whenever I’m near it.

    On the other hand, I also couldn’t live without mountains. I suppose that’s what happens when you live 30 minutes from Lake Tahoe!

    Yet another reason why I think I should live in Southern Italy. *sigh* Only 33 days until I’m there again!

    Thank you for your posts – they bring such vivid images to mind and really make me think!

  18. sage

    nice memories–growing up on the Carolina coast I know all about Morehead City and even posted a pic with my Sunday Scribblings of Cape Lookout (you have to take a boat from Harper’s Island, just north of Morehead, to get there.

  19. Frances

    I live in New York, but by day I’m in North Jersey, and come weekend lots of folks are going down the shore.
    And once again thanks for your warm welcome back comment!
    Ciao Bella.

  20. Kelly Parra

    A wonderful post, Sognatrice!

    I live very close to the ocean and I think I sometimes take that for granted. πŸ™‚

  21. Carole D.

    Ah, you brought back memories of my being deprived of never, ever visiting the ocean. Your posts have a way of making someone reflect on their past or give warm fuzzy feelings of the present.

    Although, I lived my first 14 years in Sicilia, I have no recollection of being near “il mare” or “spiaggia”. How sad!

    The closest I got, was when we were moving to America and took a ship from Napoli to New York. I didn’t appreciate then the long journey (7 or 8 days)because I was seasick the whole time. But, when I think about it now, it was like a cruise (the only one I’ve ever been on).

    The town I’m from has mountains also. I have a question regarding when to say “paese” or as you refer to your “village”.

    Also, is “il comune” more like townhall, city hall or are they one and the same?

    Sorry, for changing the subject away from the ocean. I love the proverb “Dio li fa e poi li accoppia” You have become such a local:)

  22. sognatrice

    CGP, STA–glad to see I’m not alone in the “out of sight of land” thing πŸ˜‰

    Bec, you need to come down here for some warm water!

    Anonymous, thanks; I’m sure the Mediterranean is anxiously awaiting your arrival as well πŸ˜‰

    Mardougrrl, phew! So you’re not offended? Thank goodness!

    Jenn, I can’t take credit for thinking of the beach theme as the fine women of Sunday Scribblings came up with it–but it is just perfect for this time of year. I’m from northeast/central PA, home of many former strip coalmines.

    Bongga mom, yes, the sea here is quite calm; in fact, if you’re into things like surfing, etc., there’s not much going on. It’s great for wading and seeing creatures, though, as the water is so clear; there are *lots* of seahorses around here in fact.

    Angel, thank you πŸ™‚

    Carol, I hope Marlena sees your post. I would send her an email but with Blogger, email addresses don’t come up with comments. So Marlena, if you’re reading, send me an email if you’d like to hear from another CirΓ² gal (address on main page)!

    John, yeah, Morehead will never not be funny to me, especially when said with the local accent. Mature, I know πŸ˜‰

    Kali, from Tahoe to southern Italy…wow! Thanks for the compliments πŸ™‚

    Sage, I’m off to check out your post now; thanks for stopping by!

    Frances, ah, down the shore. I kinda like referring to it as the shore because it makes me think of a “seashore,” which just has an innocent feeling to it. Not that the shore itself necessarily does, but you know….

    Kelly, thanks for stopping by! It’s so easy to take nature for granted. I’ve only been here a few years, and already it’s become so normal that there’s a gorgeous sea off the side of the road. Never could’ve imagined such a thing growing up hours and hours from a beach!

    Carole, well you need to make up for lost time when you’re back here! And then take another cruise–or at least the ferry to Calabria πŸ˜‰

    Now for the Italian. Here at least, “paese” is used in speaking of the village up in the mountains (i.e., where I live) as opposed to its counterpart on the coast. So, you go “a Marina” or “in paese.” That said, technically, any town should really by a “paese,” because otherwise, how would we have paesani?

    As far as I know, “il comune” can be two things. If you’re talking about “il comune di (name of town),” it’s like “the town of –” but it could also be used like you described, as the building of the town/city hall. I think the building should actually be called “il municipio,” but everyone calls the building “il comune” anyway. “Ci sposiamo al comune” for “We’re getting married at the town hall.” You know, just for example πŸ˜‰

    If that’s not clear, do send me a message.

  23. KC

    Such a beautiful post, sognatrice. I love the sea because I grew up on the beach. When Italians ask me if I prefer the sea or the mountains, I never know what to say, though, because what I love about the sea/ocean isn’t quite sunning myself for hours on a crowded beach!

    Why’d you have to bring up cheese steaks? I miss them so much!

  24. Gil

    Another great story. I can see not being drawn to the sea as you grew up quite some distance from the ocean. I am sure that a bambino will change this in due time. I live about twenty minutes from the beach where I met my wife. When and where I grew up the beach was the place to socialize.

  25. sognatrice

    KC, yes, not being a sunbather really makes you stand out here, doesn’t it? Sorry about the cheesesteaks, but misery loves company πŸ˜‰

    Gil, I imagine, then, that your beach has a whole lot of memories for you; how wonderful to still be so nearby!

  26. Rebecca

    I couldn’t live without the sea either, and your account has brought up memories of my childhood holidays at the coast in Kenya. I lived for many years landlocked in the middle of Canada and to be by the sea again when I moved to the Netherlands and subsequently, the UK – has kept me happy!

  27. Carole D.

    Grazie Sognatrice. You’re a wealth of information.
    You just cleared it up for me when you said “should be municipio”.
    I think that’s what I was used to and now I hear more the word “comune” being used frequently.

    We need to look up family on my husband’s side, so we’re planning on stopping by the comune/municipio.

    On my next trip I will take the ferry for sure.

  28. BecsLifeOnline

    IS THAT AN OFFER??? ;-P Haha!

  29. sognatrice

    Rebecca, what places you have lived in! Glad you’re back in your element near the sea πŸ™‚

    Carole, glad to be of service. I double-checked with P (after I had written the above info) and I think we’re right. Hope you don’t get seasick on the ferry πŸ˜‰

    Bec, why of course! If it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck….

  30. cheeky

    I never really thought about the sea from that perspective. I grew up being near the ocean. I love the sea and always have. I like what it offers. I love rugged coastline against huge cliffs. I also love the salt drying on my skin after a swim, in warmer water preferably.
    I prefer the Italian saying too. It is prettier, a bit more poetic.

Michelle FabioMichelle Fabio is an American attorney-turned-freelance writer living in her family's ancestral village in Calabria, Italy and savoring simplicity one sip at a time. 

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