Jesse and I chose Gijón for a few reasons, but a big one is its closeness to the ocean. Growing up near Lake Michigan was nothing like living by the Pacific Ocean, which I was lucky enough to live next to for the last five years in Long Beach. Alamitos Bay was calming and I began to understand the draw of the ocean that so many had found before me.
Most nights we would walk along the small bay, and see the dim house lights across the bay, in front of a stunning Southern California sunset. Other nights we would wander after sundown and look up at the few stars and planets (Jupiter was always visible, and earlier in 2020 so was Mercury, shining bright yellow) that we were lucky enough to catch that evening.
However, Alamitos Bay was an interior bay, with few, if any, crashing waves, but Gijón is not like that. Gijón has waves and water that crashes and then recedes to reveal fine beaches, all in the same day.
Many evenings since we’ve arrived, we walk along the water front, which ends with a sea wall. The sea wall has a pedestrian walkway on the top. If we happen there during the day, we usually see a few fishermen with their individual poles, and the occasional group of teenagers or couples, young and old, scattered along it, some sitting on the basic concrete blocks that serves as benches every so often along the interior of the sea wall. In the evening, as the city approaches sundown (which is not until after 9 pm), and especially on a rainy night, we are usually alone for the entirety of the sea wall walk (save the odd dog walker or jogger).
Last night was a rainy night, and thus we were alone on the sea wall, under our umbrella as a light drizzle sprinkled down from above. Here in Spain, the mask mandate is still in effect outdoors, but when no one is around, sometimes we’ll pull our masks down, and last night was a night to do that. It had been raining for the last few days, and the ocean waves were crashing, sending the sea air into our nostrils with just enough salt smell in the air to be mildly intoxicating (also could be from a bit of wine with dinner) and not at all overwhelming. Just right, as they say. We stood on the concrete seats, our knees leaning against the sea wall, and looked out at endless ocean, and took deep breaths of that fresh sea air. “Respiras en el aire del mar,” we said to each other. (23-June-2021)