Eighteen years ago, I was a 22-year-old exploring Europe with her boyfriend. We crashed in Nice, exhausted by our whirlwind first week of touring London, Paris, and Amsterdam. This was before I understood slow travel.

We stayed extra days in Nice because it was such an enjoyable place to rejuvenate. I remember the feeling of basking in the sun’s glow as I floated in the sea. Could life get any better for a girl with her whole life ahead of her?

Returning to Nice on this trip, slightly careworn from what life has thrown her way over 18 years, the girl-now-woman finds the same solace in the seas of the French Riviera. Here’s what I wrote in reflection on Facebook:

The rocks make a crisp clickclack sound when they chatter beneath the sea. This is familiar. This is home. I have been here in another life — another version of myself — floating in the undulating waters of Nice. 

The color of the sea is neither turquoise nor azul nor green not gray nor cerulean but somehow all.

I so rarely let go fully. I so rarely have someone or something to fully support me. But the sea whispers, “Relax. Give your burdens to me. I will support you.”

And I feel my neck loosen and my hips unclench as I lean into the water and float.

Mary Morris, a travel writer I aspire to emulate, said it best: “the water entered me and I could not tell where my body stopped and the sea began. My body was gone, but all the remembering was there.”