*This is a work of nonfiction based on actual events I experienced firsthand; used with permission.
When I was dating my ex-husband, we spent much of our time in a harbor town where we were never more than a five-minute drive from a body of water. One of our favorite spots was accessible only at low tide when we could drive onto the hard-packed sand and wait until the water began lapping at the car tires before hastily driving away.
There were signs there, warning people not to pass a certain point in their vehicles, which could only mean one thing. We weren't alone in our penchant for taking our chances and parking on the wet sand.
For some reason, it seemed exciting and even romantic to watch the gently rising tide approach and then leave just before the sandbar was cut off from the rest of the dry land. Then one day, we almost didn't drive away in time, and that changed everything.
Although I was perfectly happy sitting on the sandbar at low tide, I didn't have the nerve to drive my car onto the sand myself. My future husband was fearless. Driving onto the sandbar didn't bother him at all.
One night, we went to our favorite spot in my car. Since I was afraid to drive onto the sandbar, we swapped seats, and he got behind the wheel. He drove confidently onto the sandbar, and I'd be lying if I said I knew whether the tide was coming or going until it had nearly reached the tires.
Spoiler alert: the tide was coming in.
It's a funny thing when you're watching the tide roll in. Even when it rolls in slowly, it rolls in fast. If you've ever sat on the beach and waited for the tide, you know exactly what I mean. It's slow, steady, and relentless.
Before I knew it, the water was lapping at my shoes. Before I could react, it was over my ankles.
My car was not submerged, not even close, but the water had found its way around it on all sides. We were officially in a hurry, as I tried to explain to my unhurried companion. If my car was surrounded on all sides by water, albeit shallow water, then the way off the sandbar was disappearing at an even more alarming rate.
We'd need to splash through it to get to safety, and soon.
There was only one problem, trying to rush my companion guaranteed he wouldn't rush.
My car was rear-wheel drive. It wasn't built for rapidly incoming tides. The way I saw it, we were about to be stranded.
Finally, my boyfriend started the car and drove us the short, scary distance back to the parking lot.
That experience taught me never to underestimate the power of nature and the importance of heeding literal warning signs. We never went there again.
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