Small moments can be life-changing. Sometimes it is the moments that threaten to change our lives that stand out in our memories the most, even if the moment inflicts no permanent change. "Lifeguard" is a tiny piece of memoir about a tiny moment that felt enormous.
artwork by Rachel M.
It's a bright and sunny summer day on a beach in New Jersey. My friend and I are knee-deep in the ocean, attempting to find a good place to swim without the dead remains of moon jellies floating around us. Our two friends are standing on the shore, waiting for us to come back.
As we go out deeper, I feel the coolness of the clear blue water against my skin and the taste of salt on my tongue. My friend takes another step forward and stumbles off the sandbar into deeper water. She grabs my arm, yanking me deeper.
Suddenly, we are dragged farther into the sea. The waves are bigger, furiously pounding against our bodies.
"RIP CURRENT!" she yells. "SWIM!"
I dive under, pushing with all my will and holding onto her as we both try to swim against the current. We are like hamsters running in a hamster ball, trying as hard as we can to get to the shore only to find we have gotten absolutely nowhere.
The water is over my head, and I start to hyperventilate. Panicking is not the answer, I tell myself, trying to stay above the water. Stay calm, or we'll drown.
My eyesight is blurry from the saltwater and tears, but I can barely make out the bright red 'LIFEGUARD' sign floating closer to us. The lifeguard grasps both our hands, letting us hold onto the floatation device, and swims us back to the safety of land.
We are alive, and the sand between my toes never felt so good. Our two other friends run over to us, asking is if we're okay and what happened. Even though we are both shaken, we manage to laugh and tell them that the rip current had pulled us in.
Even though it was only a small moment, we couldn't help but feel like we survived something huge.
by Anna M.