Caspar David Friedrich, The North Sea in the Moonlight
I have been thinking of Oostende, on the North Sea.
Even though it was July, it was chilly and rainy. We walked through the mist to the hotel. The old world lobby suited me; the dark, heavy wood, the high ceilings, the huge, yellowed posters of old ships.
We walked down to a quaint restaurant. It was yellow, and the windows were steamed over. The people at the table next to us were from Italy. I ordered fish and the chef brought it to me himself. We walked along the dock where houseboats were tied up, squeezed next to each other as tightly as socks in a drawer. We could see the lights inside, the wine glasses, the small televisions.
It was a lovely evening.
The next morning, I walked out alone. Tourists came over, and speaking French, asked me for directions. Mostly, people assumed I was French when I was alone.
I had no idea that I loved the North Sea until that first night in Oostende. It awakened something I had never known, or had forgotten before I was born. It seemed a great mystery, swirling energy, rich, boundless, timeless.
I long to return tonight.