I’ve never lived inland.
I’ve lived all my life so far in the same city – a harbour city. A three-harboured city, actually.
Auckland sits like a smear between our harbours, but it’s not as bad other places. Our beaches are fine to swim at, mostly. And only a few kilometers out into the harbour, the sea becomes bright and sparkling.
It’s undoubtedly because I grew up here, with a beach always 20 minutes drive away and any direction’s vista ending eventually in grey sea.
Inland cities feel wrong to me. In the evening when the newsreader’s map goes from town to town, those surrounded in green look displaced. It’s not a view without water.
Rivers help. I went to Melbourne this year and the wide dark strip gave the city a centre, a point to navigate from. But you can’t really replace a sea horizon. Beaches are important. Cities get so full-of-themselves; I love it, but beaches remind you how much else exists. The sky is too far away to do the same thing. You can’t ignore a sea. No matter how self-involved you’re feeling, it will always be greater than you.
Someday I’ll no doubt live inland. But right now, I can’t imagine it. If I think of ‘land’, it’s coastline. ‘Mountains’ are something you can see the sea from. Trade in my mind is the container ships and huge grey cranes.
Things are defined by their borders, aren’t they?