The aspirational June sun warmed our two ragged towels and the whole of an empty beach. It was that interval between the end of school and July Fourth weekend, the official start of summer, but Asbury Park beachs of the late 70’s were empty. The crazies didn’t like to be out in the sun and there were certainly no lifeguards. But that’s why we liked it here. Mindy and I could smoke, talk or just get high and when we got too hot, we’d just walk into the ocean. We’d known each other since before kindergarten and were closer to each other than we were to our own sisters.
The day was getting late, and we’d have a long walk home unless I could get my sister to come pick us up on her way home from work, but that would have meant walking up to the pay phone at the Hojo’s and the likelihood of that happening was pretty slim. One last dip before we went home. The sand at the water’s edge was churning with shards of shells and rocks too rough and ugly to collect. It hurt our feet so we ran in past the break lifting our knees high up out of the water. Past the surf the water’s surface was glassy and cold, but if you kept your body submerged you didn’t feel cold. Beneath the water our bodies looked like white starfish, limbs undulating and crossing as we hopped and tread the water. If you were looking out in the ocean you would just see our heads bobbing with the waves. We couldn’t see or even feel the rip, but Mindy noticed it. We had almost moved beyond the jetty and she pointed out how small Convention Hall had shrunk in the distance. We were too young and dumb to panic, but Mindy was cool. She heard that you shouldn’t fight the rip, but let it pull you out and then swim parallel to the shore and back to the beach.
So we linked our legs and rode that rip out way past the jetty. By the time the waves rolled us back to the beach the sun was low and the sand was cold. We were panting and shaking as we pulled on our clothes for the long walk home. When I got in the door I got yelled at for being late for dinner, so I just sat down all sweaty, salty and sandy and never said a word.