IT IS LATE Wednesday night and the streets are finally clear, and now alone and quiet there is only one image that I can imagine sharing with the rest of Harvard.
It is late summer, and I am standing on a beach; the sand is the same golden brown color as the disappearing sun. A sparkling shaft of light moves with me as I run. I am very young; maybe ten, because I remember that my sister is the girl whose hand I am holding. We are laughing, tan all over, with plump brown stomachs hanging out.
And we stop and look at the waves rolling in and out. They are pretty big; they looked enormous to us then. And here is our game: As a wave runs back down the crest of the beach, we follow it, right to the edge of the water; and we shout at it, taunt that last dying moment of the huge wave that had come in before. But now another one, which it seems to us must have begun miles and miles out to sea, is cresting, curling over on itself as if in slow motion, and we watch it transfixed. And then a crash and it is angry white foam racing in at us.
My sister and I are terrified; not just because we would lose the game if our feet were to get wet. And suddenly we are all motion: every muscle moving for itself in its own direction in a rush to beat the wave back up the beach. We scream. The water is rushing up just a few feet and then a few inches behind us. We are small and awkward, and sometimes our feet get confused and we fall down and get wet. But usually we make it; we do this time. And that enormous wave which we thought was so big that it would definitely make it all the way up to our towels just runs out of gas, and begins to evaporate back into the big ocean, but leaving little things behind on the beach. And we run back again with it, and begin all over again.