I’m a complicated water baby. I was born in early July as a cancer: a moody crab grasping at life, longing simultaneously for the adventurous sea and the safe feeling of ‘home’. As a kid, I spent a lot of time playing on the beach with my two brothers, sinking my heals deep into the sand, watching my feet disappear. The world seemed open and inexhaustible from that standpoint: miles of beach stretching in either direction, the endless ocean in front of me. Behind me, the comfort of home.

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Perhaps that explains why I’m a little restless. The moment I fall into place, I wonder what’s next. I have a keen sense of what drives me, but I’m terrible at making decisions. I cry and laugh at the same time, stress coming from all directions, yet hope and humor lingering in my heart. Life is confusing, but the moment I hear the tune of the ocean, rocks clinking like glasses as the powerful sea pulls them back into the surf, everything is simplified.

I’ve always been this way; always felt more alive when facing thunderous waves and with salty wind staining my skin. Something about the ocean or the sea makes me breathe easily, think more clearly. It brings me peace. It forces me to evaluate.

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A handful of years ago, I spent my spring WWOOFing in Ireland. Each afternoon I hiked the hills to sit by the water, resident farm-dog, Belle, in tow. I’d find a spot in the grass and ponder. That green, green grass. It was mesmerizing. Thick tufts created the perfect cushion before shooting up into the sky, surrendering to the wind. It was a life lesson in itself: stay grounded, but also let go of control and just do your best to hang on.

It’s why I struggle when living landlocked. In Colorado, I was stir-crazy. Now in Hungary, I overthink everything. That’s why this spring we took a week by the sea in beautiful Croatia. I needed some clarity. After a few days in the port town of Rovinj in Istria, we made our way to Krk, Croatia’s largest island. Our bus, filled with just two other sea-seekers, whizzed around corners and up hills. We caught glimpses of remote beaches, clear waters, rocky hillsides. It was perfect.

 

Eventually, we came to a halt in Baška, a small town located at the southernmost end of Krk. Baška is popular with Croatians, Italians, and Russians in the summer months, but we were there in April and had the place to ourselves. The beach is famously long – 2 kilometers of pebbly goodness – but not a single beachcomber was in sight. We strolled the boardwalk as storms rolled in, snow dusting the inland mountains across the way. We sat on cafe terraces in our winter jackets and let the sun warm our faces. We ate seafood and drank the best white wine I’ve ever tasted, produced and gifted generously by our host herself.

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We indulged in local olive oil and watched empty ferries dock for the night. We strolled through twisting alleyways, admiring brightly painted facades and Croatian charms. We hiked in the nearby hills, reaching deserted viewpoints and crumbling ruins. We were startled by sheep and nervously side-stepped along ominous cliffs.

 

But most importantly: the sea. We sat, listened, watched, thought. I dug my heels into the sand and stared as the turquoise water bubbled around me. And just as predicted, my mind calmed and cleared. The complexities of daily life melted away and the rhythm of the waves matched my breath. Nature’s reassurance that we were right where we needed to be.

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Because of that inner peace, we were able to sit and discuss our next move. Despite being absolutely enamored with Budapest, we are ready for something new. Both Dan and I have decided to accept an offer to teach at a school in northern Madrid. It’ll be challenging, different, and probably joined by several new anxieties and reasons to worry and stress. But, it shouldn’t be too difficult to seek clarity. Spain, after all, has quite the generous coastline. It will be much easier to chase the healing sea.

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