A Thousand Times Before

I was leaning against a rail tonight, doing something I've done easily a thousand times in my life; watching the sun set over the ocean.

One hundred meters below me the tiny waves from an azure sea washed up onto a sandy grey beach. To my left, the rest of the town danced along the same cliff, the edge dropping to a sheer vertical with no hestitation whatsoever.

As I brought my gaze around, the Mediteranean sun was dropping low, a silver-yellow Apollo's chariot racing across the sky to end the day. A shimmering golden streak bounced off the sea's surface, silhouhetting a few optimistic fishermen in their dinghies.

Directly in front, Capri's mountain top rose above the humid haze. I couldn't see the island; the haze melded sea and land into a grey wall, obscuring the line between them.

A hydrofoil efficiently cut through the water, heading towards its port below and to my right. It left a wake miles long in the still sea, a trail marking its path. Directly above it, Vesuvius loomed above it all, silent but patient. It of all things here can wait an eternity (or a minute) before it erupts and destroys again.

To my right, the cliffs continue for many miles, as do the towns from here to Napoli, strung out in narrow strips, wedged betwen the sea and the mountains, with only a narrow road and a train line connecting them.

A scruffy grey striped cat came out from the bushes in the small park behind me and rubbed my leg, looking for a hand out. As I looked down again to the clear azure water with ancient rocks submerged by this ancient sea, the modern piers built upon them seemed impermanent, out of place.

I could hear the murmurs of Italian mothers quietly calling their children, old men meeting their friends - the ones they've known for 50, 60 maybe 70 years - and couples cooing to each other. Or maybe it was just the sound of tiny waves washing up on a sandy grey beach.

I was leaning against a rail tonight, doing something I'd never done before.