Hi, I'm a Thalassophile. Are You One, Too?

One of my favorite songs is Jo Dee Messina’s “Heads Carolina, Tails California.” And while both of these states -- California and NORTH Carolina -- have many, many great things going for them, as soon as I hear that song, the first thing I think of is “coastal.”

I lived in San Diego, California for over two decades, and I grew up spending my summers in eastern North Carolina on the waters of Bogue Sound. To the laid-back town of Morehead City, on the banks of Bogue Sound, is where I’ve recently returned as a grown up. With a seven-year old daughter in tow, it’s my dearest hope that she’ll be infused with a shared love of the sea. Coastlines and their blue, slippery wet blankets of saltwater call to me like nothing else.  Thankfully, I learned (less than a year ago!) that there is actually a name for people who love the sea and ocean – thalassophile.

It’s an odd word, and one that I would never have associated with water, oceans, marine life, or anything else sea-related if I were to run across it on the SAT test or the Time’s crossword puzzle. Maybe it’s the “lasso” part of it that just doesn’t jibe with the vision of what a sea lover looks like.

Thalassophile is also not in the Merriam-Webster dictionary. When I searched their online site for the word, it came back “Word not found.” Sorry, Mr. Webster, but that just doesn’t fly. Of course, there MUST be a word for people who love the sea! We have to call ourselves something!!

Candidly, I feel like exist to be near salt water. For all but three of the past thirty years, I’ve lived within a mile of saltwater, seeing at least a blue sliver of it daily. I graduated from college in Virginia in 1987 and promptly headed to the west coast, where I’d visited several times before -- to see my “first love” who was a Marine infantry officer stationed at Camp Pendleton, just north of San Diego. From the first moment I glimpsed San Diego Bay, Coronado Island, and the blue Pacific water from the plane on approach to Lindbergh Field, I knew this was the place for me – with or without the Marine boyfriend.

Unless you drive pretty far inland, it’s kind of hard not to see the sea in San Diego. Yes, it’s a big city (1.5M people and 372 square miles) and, yes, there are definitely parts of San Diego where you can’t see the ocean or the bay; however, because of the elevation of the coastline, if you need to see the water, it only takes a little bit of twisting and turning on inland roads to get to a vantage point and you'll see it all laid out before you. Big, blue, bold, and beautiful.

Lucky for me – or because I just knew it was the right place for me to be – the whole time I lived in San Diego, I was in a part of town that guaranteed me a daily view of the water, even though my home itself was never “waterfront” or “water view.” That daily glimpse of blue, even just a tiny ribbon of it seen from afar while zipping down the 5 at 70 mph, got me through bad days, smoothed out endless bumps and challenges, and helped me keep my sanity and peace of mind no matter how stormy things got.

There’s no doubt that San Diego is a thalassophile’s dream come true, but I’ve also had the good fortune to live in Virginia Beach and Morehead City, NC.  On a future post I’ll share what makes these two places special – for sea lovers.

If you too are a thalassophile, where have you lived that’s strongly reinforced your passion for saltwater? Email me and tell me all about it! I love to hear about other’s strong connections to the sea, boats, and the coast!

Patriotically, nautically yours,