“And we went on living it, like a wave, that doesn’t know
it is at every moment different water.”
—Alan Williamson, from “A Childhood Around 1950”
In 1967 I almost drowned when I wandered from a sandbar and dropped into a deep cleft. That particular summer on the Jersey Shore, my older sisters had taken to riding what seemed to be kind, propellant waves with the rafts our mother had rented near the boardwalk, the industrial canvas sort you couldn’t buy in a store. I wasn’t a confident swimmer yet, so my mother wouldn’t even let me near one, which made no sense; the rafts were oversized life preservers, after all.