When I last lived in Spain, there was nothing between me and the sea. Our street, Calle Virgen del Socorro, clung to the bare rock of Mount Benacantíl at the edges of the city. From the windows of our 8th floor flat, the view was of infinity.
I dreamed of tsunamis over and over.
Everything was clear – I would be sitting at our table chatting, or hanging out the washing on the balcony, when the water struck. There was no time to get away. I felt it hit me, cold and brutal, before I woke up gasping. Over and over. I have no idea why; I have never been afraid of drowning – at least, no more than I have ever been afraid of death. But the sea that filled my senses through the waking day overwhelmed me as I slept.
So much of that year seems like a dream to me, tantalisingly hallucinatory – as though I felt it more than I remembered it. Only those dreams felt real. The laundry, damp between my fingers. The sun on the white plastic clothes-horse. The movement in the air as I turned to face the water.
That was my first taste of living by the sea. The air smelled of brine and left a film of sea-spray on our hands. Everything was rusting. I grew rosemary on our balcony, the only plant that could withstand the constant battering of sun and salty wind. One particular evening, I remember, the air was pink with dust, and the full moon rose just as the sun was setting. Alicante was glowing. Lucentum. City of light.
The year itself was the most beautiful, most difficult, I’ve ever lived. A hundred versions of me drowned by night; in my waking life, only the bare rock of me was left. Six years of life have softened me with growth again, but I still miss the sea. I never thought I’d fall in love with what killed me, but I have.