@loripalminteriTweets by @loripalminteri
“ARE YOU LEAVING SOON?” A woman says with poor attitude, middle aged, on the plump side who’s been stopped in front of my parking spot in a small parking lot in Long Beach where I am taking off my wetsuit.
This was spring time when the air was warming up but the water was still cold. Life long friend and fellow adrenaline nut, Wesley, was parked next to me. We were bullshitting about surfing, our reckless childhood and our similar disposition of our outlook on life– that it should be enjoyed, how material desires are a trap and our thirst for traveling.
My 4/3mm wetsuit is tough to peel off. It’s technically a divers suit which just means that there’s another layer. But taking off a full wetsuit is always a chore. And removing mine takes more than just a few minutes. So that’s what this lady was doing. She was watching me undress next to my car.
“Is this lady fucking serious right now?” I say to Wesley, one hand holding a towel around my waist as I try to remove my bathing suit and put on a denim skirt without faltering and giving a free show. Though Wesley and I have never been involved romantically, we’ve known each other long enough and changed in enough parking lots that we’ve both gotten side glances of the other in the nude.
“She’s trying to get a glimpse you naked!”
“I get good reviews.”
This lady continued to stare at me while I undressed into dry clothes for about 15 minutes. Though if I did fumble with the towel, she’d be one of many who’ve seen a nip slip in a beach parking lot. A Catholic upbringing still stains my openness about sex and sexuality, however, a few years ago I decided if someone saw my boob in a parking lot while I changing out of a wetsuit, it wasn’t going to scar them for life. I don’t even know why I would be concerned for the other person in this scenario? As if I would make them uncomfortable? When it’s clearly me who is uncomfortable? It’s a nice boob.
When my wet wetsuit hangs over the railings at my building, my (elderly) landlord is concerned someone might take it. This is not something I am concerned about. And not only because it is a safe neighborhood. I’m pretty sure no one wants my wetsuit (especially when it’s wet and has that mildew-ish smell– yum!). First of all, I barely fit into it. It’s super snug. It’s an old suit, and being that it’s technically a diver’s suit, not a surfer’s, the shoulder resistance slows me down considerably when paddling. Though on the plus side, it is warm and keeps my left should tight in place. I’ve been talking about buying a new wetsuit for three or four years now, but since my parents raised us like we grew up in the Great Depression, I have a hard time throwing (practical) stuff away until it is beyond use. Also, I am poor. Furthermore, I’d caution anyone who is borrowing a wetsuit. Few surfers would deny how often we pee in our wetsuits, however gross you may think it would be. If you ask a surfer if they pee in their wetsuit, most likely they’ll answer with, “yah! It’s like a natural heater when you’re cold in the water.” (haha) When visiting in Florida, I’ve even peed in my mom’s shorty wetsuit that I borrow to go in the ocean (sorry, mom).
Perhaps one day I will have multiple wetsuits so I don’t have to put a wet wetsuit on again. Dreams! Putting on a wet wetsuit in the worst.
It’s a sunny morning in October. The water is getting cold, however. My wetsuit is damp from the session the day before. I dread putting it on. Conditions are small and clean, but fun no less. The chilling water is a clear blue/green. It may very well be my last surf session of 2019, a sinking feeling that one of my favorite things to do gets put on hold.
The weekend proves unproductive for my notebooks and editing projects for freelance work and friends. When swells arise, most other things get put to the back burner. You should never fall in love with a surfer. The ocean is our soul. That Sunday when I got out of the water, I retreated to my BFF Jimmy’s to shower and clean up. There are few things in life so satisfying as taking a hot shower after getting out of the cold water. A chill sets into your bone marrow, and often, I feel cold the whole day after surfing in frigid seas. Long time friends invite me over for Football games, but my body is exhausted, so I opt for a nap. Wrapping myself in a blanket on Jimmy’s couch, I fall asleep almost immediately. For three hours. When I wake up, I’m disoriented. Did I really just nap for three hours?
Often in dreams I’m visited by the same ocean friends who have graced me with their salutations in my many ocean visits. Dolphins, seals, manta rays, turtles, sea horses… Where mother ocean holds me.
You told me I was like the dead sea. You’ll never sink when you are with me Oh, lord, I’m your dead sea… The nicest words you ever said to me. Honey can’t you see. I was born to be, be your dead sea.*
*Dead Sea by the Lumineers