@loripalminteriTweets by @loripalminteri
A Postcard From The Beach
“It’s nice to see a healthy young person reading a book,” a middle-aged man said, with a plump belly, his wife seated in the beach chair next to him, with the same body type. “And really enjoying it!” He added, which was true, I was reading David Sedaris’s latest, Calypso, and he’s one of the few writers that can actually make me burst into laughter.
You’d think I’d be better at talking to people at 29, or more clever with responses, but I’m not, so I replied with, “I like reading.” This information was already evident.
“I read everything on here now,” he said, gesturing to his kindle. Wait, was this conversation still going? I was at the beach, alone, reading a book and sunbathing… surely a true fellow bibliophile would understand?
“I don’t even watch tv. It’s terrible. Makes people stupid.”
I’m trying to write and sell television pilots. I love television as well, I think, but I say nothing. I nod and then lay down on my towel and continue to read.
It’s weird, though, that he said, “it’s nice to see a healthy young person reading a book.” What does me being healthy have to do with anything? If I were at the beach in a wheelchair reading a book, would he have been less surprised? Are sick young people more likely to read? I think the times I’ve been fevered and ill I’ve been more likely watch TV and go in and out of consciousness. The exception being when I was hospitalized or recovering from surgery. After an appendectomy, I read Ayn Rand’s “Atlas Shrugged” in less than a week.
Or perhaps because I’m fit and not fat? Would he have been less surprised if I were young and slightly overweight, reading a book?
Running to Democrat Point from Robert Moses is great run because after a couple miles, there is literally no one else in sight. There, where the inlet and the Great South Bay meets the Atlantic Ocean and the water is crystal blue. Usually, I’ll take a swim there, do a dead mans float and do a sort of “meditation” in the company of the creatures with wings and fins.
This is going to sound batshit crazy, but trust me, it’ll only get crazier.
Meditation was not something I was sold on. Being a tie-dye wearing surfer chick who’s also a weed enthusiast, I’ve often been accused of being a hippie, though, I’m actually a libertarian who finds most hippies intolerable (in their defense, I find most people intolerable). There’s a difference between a beach bum and a hippie, though there is some overlap, and we often look the same.
Many a friend and annoying stranger have pitched meditating to me. “It will help your writing.” “It will help your anxiety.” “It will help, blah blah, blah.” However, it just takes the right person you respect to make you reconsider. In my case, two of those people would be comedians Colin Quinn and Adam Ferrara. These are not guys I would have pegged for meditators, especially Adam, who, is a neurotic, Italian wise guy from Long Island.
But within the past year or so, I have been able to tap into something rather curious while “meditating.” I’d be careful not to credit psychedelic drugs to being a tool to changing one’s mind, as they are not the answer, but I think there is value in them. I am not saying you need to do drugs to be able to do this. Let Terrence McKenna do that.
“Meditating” is really not so easy. I put the word in quotations because I don’t care for the word, and I think like the word “soul,” it’s meaning can vary as it’s highly subjective. It’s not easy to turn off your brain, especially when you brain is especially neurotic, imaginative, and, well, looping like a mother fucker, in and out of scenarios and shifting perspectives and like having a board meeting where 30 people are all talking over each other and you’re at the head of the table thinking, “why don’t I just shoot myself in the face?” In fact, meditating was something I dismissed for myself. I mean, I wake up every single day remember my dreams. My brain doesn’t even rest when it’s supposed to be resting. I’ll find peace in death (hopefully).
But in lieu of some personal turbulence and creative ruts, I learned something. To stop being the narrator and just kick back and be a passenger of your own head. I know, I know… that even sounds like hippie garbage when written out as a sentence, but I’m asking you to trust me on this, if even for only while you’re reading this. I’m not trying to help you, I’m trying to help me.
To not only watch my thoughts, but also the shapes and patterns behind my eye balls is a trick that will be a treat if you can learn it. If you’re tripping on drugs, you could certainly close your eyes and enjoy a light show. It always baffled me that women are known to talk after sex, because after a good orgasm, if you close your eyes, endorphins release and create a colorful spectacle behind the eyes (I’ve actually told guys to be quiet after sex so I can view this). Drugs or an orgasm, of course, provide better shows than sitting around and closing your eyes trying to quiet your head to watch the light patterns of your blood vessels, but I’m being completely honest when I tell you that in a meditative state with my eyes closed, I’ve seen scenes as clear as looking at a picture.
It doesn’t last long. But when it’s there, it’s vivid and beautiful, and it doesn’t usually have to do with anything. Random. I have seen: a lakeside cabin, beaches (of course), mountains with pink painted skies, coral reefs, people, city streets, rooms from my childhood home, etc. Such images will come with eyes closed, laying in bed, sitting on a chair, floating in the the ocean. I cannot summon the images. They have no particular meaning to me. It’s more like my brain showing me a flashcard of what it can do, and then taking it away. A magic trick of the minds eye.
No such images came to me on that beach day while dead floating in the ocean. Mostly, I was thinking how I could disappear. I’ve a month to month apartment, a job that if I quit my boss would only be annoyed that he had to go through the hiring process again, exactly four comedians who would be upset if I quit comedy, the rest either wouldn’t notice or be happy there was one less comic in the race, no debt, no loans, close friends and family, yes, but even if they don’t fully understand my distance they respect my introspective nature, so it would be some time before anyone questioned my absence. I am free. Today I can start over, as anything. Go anywhere. Go on. Quit. Move. Begin again. What a tremendous feeling, that sense of freedom. How it comforts me and brings me a relief. How I cling to it, identify with it, and feel it is necessary to not go mad with a trapped feeling.
With that freedom, a side of a debilitating loneliness.