Islander from Afar: Fighting The Tide


Charlie Nadler grew up on Martha’s Vineyard and graduated from MVRHS with the class of 2002. He lives in the Los Feliz area of Los Angeles where he works in the film and television industry and regularly performs stand up comedy.  In the twice-monthly “From Afar” column, Charlie will muse about the Island from his perch in LA.

I’m almost never in Oak Bluffs, but I’m always in Oak Bluffs.

I’d like to live on the Island. But I stink at it. Learning a trade would be difficult. I feel no matter how hard I tried to build a stone wall, it would inevitably collapse on me. Going back to school for a profession is also out of the question. I suffer from a pair of chronic conditions: laziness and cheapness.

Like many childhood friends, I went into the family business. It’s the best decision I ever made. Nadlers don’t landscape, run inns, or design roundabouts. We work with ideas and I find myself in Los Angeles, hoping to earn my return, striving not for money but the island time it buys.

Luckily modern technology helps me keep a general, comforting pulse on my home. I track local news stories and learn about new establishments; I heard about Fat Ronnie’s and Pirate Jack’s way before they opened, I’m excited for Copper Wok, and talk of a Bowling Alley in Oak Bluffs is my kind of talk! I enjoy Facebook and Instagram pictures of my friends fishing the derby or sometimes even (gulp) getting married and having children.

This connection from a distance serves as an invaluable reminder of how special it is to be from Martha’s Vineyard. Few places are so safe, picturesque, calming, welcoming. But this amazing status quo comes with a price. Believing my childhood home is the best can make life frustrating when life is imperfect — out in Hollywood I have worked for pampered executives who get mad when the wrong bagels are stocked on their private jet. Sometimes we, as Vineyards, get sesame when we want everything, but it’s important to remember our awesome surroundings, the same surroundings that draw the spoiled jetsetters every summer. We are the everything bagel of islands. [Side note: Nantucket is a gluten free bagel.]

What’s fun about being an islander from afar is the ability to compare and contrast daily life on the Vineyard versus LA and the respective definitions of strife. This week the Times has a headline about an upcoming public meeting in Tisbury dedicated to the redesign of one parking lot. Meanwhile in the LA Times, three men were arrested for armed robbery of a Starbucks gift card. And that’s a fluff piece.

Whenever I return, whether it’s a weekend or a month, I wish it were longer. I spent most of high school dreaming of “the real world”. Now my adult life centers on plots to escape the mainland. The island does a lot of great things, but what it does best, is grow on you. Like that cliché wine quote. It gets better with age.

Maybe that’s why they call it the Vineyard…