High Tide

Written By: Karen  Gerard

The summer of 1982 was coming to an end and I was about to turn sixteen years old. I was excited to spend the last weekend of the season at our new home in Southampton. The home was in a beach community located on the shores of Little Peconic Bay. It was our second home. We also had a house in New Hyde Park, closer to the city, so my dad could easily commute to his job in Manhattan during the week.

My aunt and uncle were visiting for the weekend. It was a picture perfect day. The sun was shining, the sky was deep blue and there was a light breeze in the air. My parents were busy preparing food for the weekend so they asked my aunt and uncle to take me down to the beach. Aunt Martha and Uncle Vinny took a swim in the bay and I layed out on my beach blanket and listened to my Walkman. I was so proud of my personal audio cassette player. I saved all of my birthday money and purchased it for $100. I really wanted the more expensive model, the D6 with Dolby C noise reduction, but I didn’t have enough birthday money to purchase it.

I got lost in the music and for a moment, forgot about my surroundings; I was in my own little world. I snapped out of it and sat up for a second and found myself all alone. I was shocked that my aunt and uncle left me. It turns out they just wanted to go back to the house for a few minutes. Apparently, they told me this but I did not hear them with my Walkman on!

I was a little upset they left me alone, not being aware that they would be right back. I decided to take a walk on the beach. On our beach, from a distance, you could see the Elizabeth A. Morton National Wildlife Preserve. I always wanted to walk there from the beach, but every time I attempted to do so, the tide was too high. I started walking towards the preserve, expecting to turn back where the tide was too high to pass. Well, this time the tide was low enough to cross, so I decided to keep going. This was my chance to walk all the way to the preserve.

I hadn’t been keeping track of time, and I guess a few hours had gone by. I finally arrived to the preserve, enjoyed some time there and started heading back home. While I was at the preserve, the tide had been rising. Not realizing this, I was surprised to find out that on my way back, the water was too high to pass. I thought to myself, “Oh no, what do I do? How do I get back?”

In the meantime, it hadn’t occurred to me that anyone was concerned where I was. After all, they left me alone on the beach. It turns out when my aunt and uncle returned to the beach and saw I wasn’t there, they panicked. They informed my parents that I was missing and the whole family started searching for me.

Meanwhile, I was struggling to figure out how to cross the area of beach where the tide was too high. After a while, I was able to cross when the waves were pulling back into the bay. I was thrilled that I was on my way now.

As I was getting closer to home, I saw lots of activity by our beach. There was a big crowd of people and there were several divers in the water. I thought there was a party or some event occurring on the beach. I started walking faster; I was anxious to see what was happening. It turned out the event was a rescue search; they were looking for me!

When my parents discovered I was missing, they called the police. They didn’t know what happened to me. One theory was that I had taken a swim in the bay and possibly drowned; I guess that is why I saw the divers in the water.

When I got back to the beach, my parents were so happy to see me. I didn’t realize I had caused anyone to worry. I felt bad I had caused such concern.

My aunt started yelling at me that if I were her child she would kill me. On the other hand, my parents were just grateful I was home safe and sound. They told me they were going to take me out and buy me anything I wanted … maybe I could get that brand new D6 Walkman after all!