I am on my side, burrowed deep into the doughy sand, my eyes adjusting to the strange world around me that has only just come into focus after the darkness of slumber. The air that wafts from the sea is cool, and the loud silence that pierces through the rip of the waves acknowledges that I am, indeed, happily alone here. Though my perspective is somewhat askew, so deep in my den, I can see that the sky remains dreary. Light drops pop against my skin, perhaps an ill-received gift from the gods, or simply an overzealous spray from the sea. Brooding clouds thrive overhead, and down where they should meet the horizon, there is but a grainy haze of discontent. The sea is sad. The sky is sad. And I am sad.
I have always held firm to the cliché that while you may not get what you want, you will always get what you need. It as if I expect fate, as some primordial being whispering through the layers of existence, to push reality in a direction of lessons and learning. It is why, perhaps, I travel. But here I lay, ill beyond belief, on what must be one of the most beautiful beaches of the Black Sea, paralyzed under the realization that, for what seems like the first moment in my life, I have been handed a situation I do not need. This absolutely sucks.
Sitting up is difficult, because my body feels heavier than ever before. Moments from the immediate past flash in my consciousness, taking shape just above the salty residue that hangs in the air in front of my face. An intricate shrimp dish, ladled with spice and the sexy exotic musk of adventure materializes to my left. The haze of beer, electronica, and twinkling street lamps, off right. Just there, there, a cold tiled floor and a porcelain throne, beckoning to the churning in my stomach. It taunts, it taunts, it taunts, and yet again I am giving in, my stomach heaves under the pressure, pressure against only air, only air remains after all, after all here I am gazing back at the sand, sand blended with the dewy ooze that had only momentarily been a part of my digestive track. The spice burns in my throat and I cry.
After all, a traveler never aims to be ill. Sickness removes one from the immediacy of a situation, prevents one from fully engulfing an experience. Focus turns internal instead of external as capacity for emotion is reached. In this moment, I am consumed. Never mind the salty abyss in front of me, a horizon beckoning for adventure. Never mind the castle ruins down the coast to my right, a monument to time that has worn this beach. Never mind the quaint village up the hill behind me, small colorful windows and restaurants that would, on any other occasion, entice the explorer within me for a peak-about.
Instead I am selfish. I am alone. My tour group has, I assume, wandered down the waves to find simmet and husked corn. While my health was, I assume a top concern in letting me sleep while they meander, the deep loneliness the illness procures pounds in my gut, hitting me again and again like the splashes that spring up on the wet beach. The moment echoes in the depths of tragedy, and to top it all off, I have puke on my skirt.
As I struggle to my feet and make my way to the waves, I am angry. I have the largest desire to grind the sand beneath my feet with each step. I strike a stone with the inside of my foot and feel no pain, simply frustration that it did not travel further. I strip my skirt and hurl it into the waves, retrieve it, and repeat. I had been sick before. I had been sick and alone before. I have felt pain and cold and the empty, soulless desires that come from their coupling. What lesson would fate ever dare try to impart upon me by bringing these ill-desires again, during what should be the grandest adventure of my young life?
Overwrought with emotion, I collapse into the belly of the sea, my flesh falling fluid with the breaking tide, my skirt a crumpled mess hanging from my hand. There is no longer a point for tears, because the salt is simply leaking into my pores and I can feel my insides turn to water. To my left, the Sile castle ruins find themselves in and out of focus. A scruffy mutt, a societal burden, suffering like me, wanders from the scrap pile near the back of the beach up to an overturned fast food bag nearer the bay and stops to look at the blue beyond. How many like he and I have sat and stared at the feeling of insignificance here? How many have washed away their imperfections of daily life with a baptism in these waves? How many have purged the fluids of disappointment, discontent and solitude by being one with this water? The stone, the sand, the sea, the sick, the sad. For a moment, it makes sense.
As if cliché reflects reality, the sun peaks from behind a cloud above me. I’m still not utterly convinced that this moment of clarity rectifies what fate believes I need, for indeed the helplessness of it all is a bit daunting. Instead, I can only chalk it up to being important, and that the blistering connection between all of us, be it fate or something more, recognizes my thirst for knowledge when I travel. Instead of introspection overtaking experience, introspection has become experience. I am alone, I am everyone, and I am the sea.