When we made love the crucifix around my neck would collide with the one she wore, and occasionally they'd entangle, the blunt silver abstraction of mine and the delicate gold beauty of hers. If it was sin it seemed a minor thing compared to the sense of magnificent wonder as we learned from each other with every exploration. At seventeen we lay between thin blankets on chill damp sand overlooking the ocean the halfway between Block Island's Old Harbor and the North Light. I wrapped myself around the gentle thinness of her body, giving whatever warmth I had to her.

She'd be in such deep trouble when we got back. This was a four day run already during the school year and her father was going to go ballistic even if he didn't suspect that she was with me, which, of course, he would. I wouldn't be in trouble unless Renny's father came back early from Chicago and went looking for his boat. The boat I was supposed to be re-doing the teak decks on. But he wouldn't come home early. He was in Chicago playing concerts. And at school and home I was never missed. In fact, it was getting suspended for a week for fighting on Friday that had put this trip in motion, along with a wind that told me the last of the summer days were in our hands right now, Renny himself scoring a huge amount of amazing pot, and Meghan saying, "What the fuck, let's just go." So instead of scraping the deck we used the "friends of the cashier at the A&P discount" to stock the galley, charged a full tank of gas to Renny's dad's account, and headed out into the Sound with an eight knot wind from the south pushing us across rolling blue waters.

Why was she here? It was a question that played and replayed in my thoughts whenever we were together though one I never asked out loud. I knew all she risked to be with me. She had the right kind of family and a beautiful house and she usually did great in school. She could have been home in that extraordinary bedroom or out with a boy who could buy her anything. She could have been living a life her father approved of, and that would certainly have made things easier.

But here she was in my arms, eighty miles from that safe life, a runaway hanging out with a crazy retard and his drugged out buddy. Here she was playing along the roughest edges of adolescence. Was she slumming? Probably at first, maybe she was still. Never in my entire life have I been able to figure out why people would stay. I surely couldn't figure it out back then.

One of my fingers twisted in the chain around her neck. Off the beach the mast light and the burning end of Renny's joint both glowed in the dark. She rolled back into me and we both looked toward the sky. A crack in the clouds seemed a dark river that tiny stars swam smoothly across. To the east an orange moon sat in a wide pool. When I whispered that to her she started to tell me that it was the clouds that were moving, but then stopped, and reached back with one hand to stroke my hair. After a long minute she sighed, "I love to listen to you think." And that was the very best thing anyone had yet said to me.

  • Ira Socol

Author, Dreamer, Educator: A life in service - NYPD, EMS, disabilities/UDL specialist, tech and innovation leader for education. Co-author of Timeless Learning

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