When I flew into Charlotte airport, I hadn’t eaten all day. Planes make me feel gross, so I always concentrate more on hydrating, but also, let’s be honest, there were some nerves thrown in there, too. So, while sliding into a booth at some Charlotte Airport eatery, it all hit me at once, like smelling salts.
Oh. I forgot that Southern accents are a thing.
Oh. I forgot that country music is a thing.
Oh. No one here wears headphones while they’re walking around? Cool, cool.
Hours later, I got to my house in Asheville. There’s a fantasy that many people with remote jobs have when we visit places in the middle of nowhere where it’s like: I could live here. I could stay here in a cabin in the middle of the woods, out in nature, and live in a cheap place. I could BUY A HOUSE MAYBE. And have dogs and a yard and go hiking—those city people who have to commute into work every day? Those SUCKERS.
And then you get to a place like Asheville and you remember that that’s why you like going there on vacation. Because it is a place to vacation. Maybe not so much a place to live.
When I got to Boston, I was overwhelmed and intimidated and thinking what the fuck am I doing. I’m not strong enough to travel across the country by myself. And then it passed after two days through a combination of long walks, seeing friends (new and old!), and, let’s face it, beautiful men who do things like bring tincture on dates and ask if they can go down on you. Here, the travel hangover lasted a week. It was a combination of the following things:
Between total screen time burnout, culture shock, and adapting to a new dating style (the ONLY app people use here is Tinder!), there were tears. Oh, how there were tears.
I know myself well enough to realize after four months, I needed a session with my therapist. I needed a tune-up, so I scheduled a FaceTime appointment.
Now, in addition to the burnout, there was something else going on as well. I was positively, insanely, unbearably, uh, as Austin Powers would say: randy.
I have rolled my eyes so hard at dudes who are like “If I don’t sleep with someone soon I’m going to explode, I need the release, it’s a biological thing, dear god all this testosterone, I just need to plow something, I can’t think of anything else, yada yada yada.” I’m like, oh just calm down over there, champ. But then after my first five days in Asheville, out of nowhere, despite feeling completely exhausted, that horn dog compulsion hit me. It literally felt like an itch I needed to scratch, nothing more, AND I WAS COVERED IN FLEAS.
Now, when I was home in NY for the holidays, everyone asked me the same thing: BUT WHAT IF YOU FIND THE ONE, DANA. ARE YOU GONNA SETTLE DOWN?!!!” And my answer every fucking time is to laugh and say, “First off, I highly doubt I'd find anyone I'd consider to be The One while traveling, but if I do... then I finish my trip. Because the kind of man I would want to date would want me to see this through and would be willing to figure our relationship out until the trip is over.”
But sometimes I do get worried when I move to a new place that I’ll meet someone that I really like and then won’t be able to stay, which seems like a legitimate concern for someone in my position. But I got here and was like “yeah, no, there’s no fucking way I’m living in Asheville” and that took all the pressure off. Oh! I realized. I can just hook up with people and not worry about them being The One.
Still horny (which, incidentally, is the name of my fifth memoir when I’m 70), and with all the pressure taken off, I did something I never did before: I initiated a booty call via Tinder. There has never been a time where I have said to someone, “Yeah, just come over.” I prefer to meet in person and have my A+ tits out, charm someone with my dazzling personality, and see what happens.
But then I met a really chill bisexual dude in an open relationship on Tinder—we discussed testing, he went above and beyond to give me a rundown of the sexual history of him and his primary partner, and let me know that he’s on PReP. He was charming and woke, identifying as an intersectional feminist. Our conversation was great, I liked what he was working with, and eventually asked if he could come over.
Before I did this, I thought long and hard (heh) if I was doing it for the right reasons. Was I doing this because I was lonely? Was I doing this because I felt unsettled or sad? Was I doing this for anything other than the right reasons? I had an inclination that the answer to all those questions was no, by this time the sad feelings had dissipated, my friends make it impossible for me to feel lonely, but I wanted to go over it with my therapist just to be sure.
The funny thing about Cecilia is that she looks very much like my mom. Both of us with our earphones in, I got right to the point.
“Listen, Cecilia. I’m not doing this because I need to feel validated or wanted or suppress some feelings. I got out all the tears throughout the week and am feeling so much better emotionally. I just feel burnt out. I need to blow off some steam and I went about this in the safest way possible. This guy and I talked about testing, consent, and the parameters of his open relationship, I gave him my address with explicit instruction to never come over without my invitation, and he freely gave me his first and last name, which I Googled, to verify his identity. I’m being as responsible as I possibly can in this situation.”
There was no trace of judgment on Cecilia’s face. “Do you have a bad gut instinct about this guy? Is that why you’re questioning this? Because if you are, I would listen to that.”
I did a gut check. I didn’t feel bad! He and I talked throughout the day and I ensured he was respectful, consent-driven, someone I actually liked, and that there was plenty of physical attraction. I didn’t want to fuck someone I was just meh about. After the gut check, I realized I was excited to meet this guy! I was excited to get plowed! So what was the hold up?
The truth was I was uncomfortable with the stigma regarding a booty call. I felt like I was somehow being a bad person. It felt dirty or wrong (says the girl who has a little story coming out in Time Out magazine about how I watched a dude in Astoria jack off via webcam every few weeks for four months…). It’s not something I’d done before; I’M NOT THE KIND OF GIRL WHO DOES BOOTY CALLS, I thought.
Then I took a step back. Women who make booty calls aren’t inferior. Women who make booty calls for the right reasons (not for emotional management, not “to feel wanted,” not to stave off some uncomfortable feelings) and consider their health and the health of their sex partner—what was wrong with that? If a woman came to me and asked me if these parameters were wrong, what would I say? I would say no. I would say that that all seemed perfectly reasonable to me.
So, sure, I have never been a booty call person before. Well, what if, in this situation, I was?
After explaining this, Cecilia chirped, “Then this doesn’t seem like a problem to me!”
Phew. Armed with my mom-therapist’s thumbs up, a wave of relief crashed over me. I let out a breath. At peace with my decision, I hung up and realized I had to pee. I went to the bathroom.
Until that moment, I thought my period was over.
Narrator voice: “It was not.”
I did the right thing and texted the dude that I was on the rag. He said that he was fine with it, but if it made me uncomfortable, we could plan for another time. I thought I was dreaming. Who was this angel?
Blah blah blah, he came over, he was super good-looking and kind, and we essentially ended up turning my bed into a deleted scene from CSI Asheville. (I even put a towel down!) (Side note: I’m not sure really what the fuck to do. Do I take the sheets to a dry cleaners and risk looking like Patrick Bateman? Honestly, I’ll probably just end up buying my AirBNB host new sheets and towels.)
And the best part was he was a super nice guy! In real life, he was as good of a conversationalist as he was online, plus funny and smart—afterwards, we laid around and traded Tinder horror stories (I won—my “a dude brought me back to an air mattress” story is good on paper, but even better with my delivery), we talked about what it’s like to date men here (he had some of the frustrations I had), and he even offered to show me some good hikes and waterfalls around Asheville, which I will take him up on. He even joked that the sex was so fun he might even finally give Tinder a rating on the App store.
I've always believed that sex is a form of self-care, but, for me, it was usually within the parameters of a date or a relationship. This experience challenged me to think outside that box (and my box). So I guess the lesson I learned was that I didn’t think I was a booty call kinda girl, but if you try hard and believe in yourself (and do it safely and responsibly), anything is possible. There’s no reason to judge yourself. The only judgment I experienced happened later that night when a delivery guy from Mellow Mushroom Pizza came by and read out my order (“Cheesy breadsticks, wings, chocolate peanut butter cookie?”), his voice DRIPPING with shade. (I felt like saying, YEAH BUDDY, I’M PERIODING SO HARD RIGHT NOW, but I somehow kept it together.) And that’s how it should be.