It can start as a sort of longing, nostalgia, or aching in your heart. In Portuguese, you might term it saudad and the Welsh hiraeth. In any case, it’s usually a hopeless quest, and when asked, you are most likely to sigh and say that you can’t explain it; It’s just there. For former sailor’s it’s the sea.
The sea is why old sailors continue to have paintings of clipper ships on the wall and talk endlessly of their favorite vessel. It’s why many a missive of sea stories get written about spectacular and very mundane voyages.
It’s why seamen who long ago came ashore continue to use terms like “being in soundings” when referring to being close to shore. It’s the look that comes into their eyes when the wind shifts and the smell of the sea charge the inland air.
I’ve associated with those truly smitten: my father and my first father-in-law. Those two could agree on nothing except that a career spent at sea was worthwhile.
I have a touch, just a hint of it. I can control it with limited exposure; a dash to the coast twice a month does it. But I’m only an hour or so away. Someone suggested that I might enjoy moving someplace lovely and peaceful, say Vermont. I shuddered at the thought of being genuinely landlocked.