***Before we get started***
I was in the ER this past Saturday with a ruptured ovarian cyst. Thankfully, I wrote this blog post the night before on my cab ride home from the symphony, so I had enough to pub today. Since Saturday, I’ve been advised by the ER doc (who was wonderful by the way--hi Dr. Weist of Beth Israel!) to be on bed rest and take pain meds. I hope to be up and running by the end of the week, so next week’s post might be a bit behind, but that’s a-okay. To lighten up the mood considering I just had one of the most physically painful and scary things that's ever happened in my life, here is a screenshot of me matching with an Edible Arrangement on OKCupid.
Back on board? Great. Now here's what I wrote on Friday night:
If there were an outline of my ideal day, today would pretty much have followed it to a T. I put in a normal day at work (well, as normal as it can be since I work from home and am able to take five-minute dance breaks to sing along to Steve Winwood’s “Higher Love” throughout the day if I feel like it), put on a red lip, took the trolley to Hynes Convention Center, walked the Harvard Bridge at sunset to Cambridge where I proceeded to eat a burrito, guac and chips, and a horchata at Anna’s Tacqueria (I was REALLY craving a burrito) before heading over to the MIT symphony orchestra. Mexican food and the French horn go really well together, after all.
[Hot tip: college symphony orchestras (particularly ones at Ivy League schools) are comprised of individuals who are a year away from playing professionally for some big-name orchestras, so you are seeing high-quality live classical music for, like, five bucks.]
Now, I love going to the symphony alone. Especially to university performances where there isn’t assigned seating. I like sitting all the way in the back off to the side where I can ball up my jacket and use it as a pillow. I’m in my little nest and no one can bother me. I like to close my eyes and pretend I’m on my own island with no one around me and it is so pleasant (especially with a belly full of guacamole). I don’t have the opportunity to go alone very often at all (because both my parents love the symphony and whoever I’m dating at the time usually likes classical music, too, so one way or the other I go to these things with someone else in tow). In fact, the last time I went to a performance alone, I was 18. That was 11 years ago and right after the performance ended, I decided in that moment to drop out of college.
I had no idea where my life was going. None. During the program (this Shostakovich piece; I still remember it), which was so incredibly beautiful and meant to evoke every sort of feeling whirring around inside you, I realized I was in an incredible amount of emotional pain which I had done a pretty good job of staving off by doing a lot of self-destructive behavior. Most of the time, I felt numb. In that moment—my butt in the chair, looking down from the mezzanine at the NYU students on stage in all black—I was not feeling anything. But that performance made me realize that I wanted to hear something like that and let it bring me some sort of joy. It was like not having feeling in your arm, watching someone poke it with a needle and thinking “I should be feeling something right now.” There were tears brimming in my eyes as I listened to the orchestra and all I was thinking was “I wish I could feel something right now.”
Tonight, watching the MIT symphony orchestra, I felt what I can only describe as ghost emotions. My brain was telling me, “Hey, the last time you were in this exact position, do you remember how awful and confusing it felt? Remember that when the last time you saw a performance on your own you had no idea where your life was going?” I remembered. But this time—butt in the chair, watching the symphony—that feeling of “I don’t know what the fuck I’m doing” wasn’t coupled with pain or numbness; it was coupled with absolute freedom and a deep, deep sense of bliss. I know where I've come from and worked really hard to be where I am. To let myself feel things fully and not be numb to experiences. To listen to my gut and know what I want and what I need to nourish my body and my mind. (And I recognize that I’m fortunate enough to be able to live this way because of a combination of talent, perseverance, absolutely killing myself to build a stable career, and pure goddamn luck.)
I wanted to pull together a list of what living intuitively in Boston means for me:
In regards to being assertive when it comes to my time: when I first got here, I kinda sorta also entered a fun little video chat thingy with the hottest guy I’ve ever seen from OKCupid who travels a lot for work, but shhhh let’s not talk about the details. He cool. He woke.
Actually, this is a funny story: the Saturday before Columbus Day, I got what I’m 90% sure was food poisoning. The guy I had gone on a date with the night before also felt pukey that Saturday, so I’m sure it was what we ate (which is BIZARRE because the place was kinda fancy). Hot OKCupid guy wanted to FaceTime that Monday and I was celebrating Columbus Day the way Columbus would’ve wanted (lying in bed with cholera-like symptoms). Twenty minutes before he asked to FaceTime, I was in sweats, no makeup, hair a mess and had walked down the hallway of my apartment to throw some laundry in and ran into my AirBNB host. I looked like absolute death.
After OKCupid cutie made a request to see my face (which is Walking Dead cosplay at this point), I hopped in the shower, blowdried my hair, put on makeup (including a red lip), and a very… uhhhh… suggestive yellow lacy dress. I looked hot. (If I’m going to FaceTime a hot dude, I’m gonna do it right.) Two minutes before I connect, I get a knock on my door. It’s my host. He asked if I wanted a full-length mirror for my room since there are no mirrors in there. I grab it, say thank you, and he tells me he’s going to come back with something later to affix the mirror to the wall. I tell him I have a phone call and to not disturb me for the next hour if possible. He agrees and before he leaves, he goes, “You look… nice.”
Then I shut the door, have my little chat, and then afterwards wipe off all my makeup and change back into my sweats. The host comes back to set up my mirror and gives me a funny look.
12/10 my AirBNB host thinks I’m a webcam girl. There’s no question.
In the end, this FaceTime dude was SUPER lovely and hot, but he was also Avatar soul-bonding-level clingy (yanno, when they connect the ends of their braids and it’s like UNGHHHHH)
and out of town for work for a fairly long-ish time (despite being based in Boston), so I said, “Listen, I dig you, but I didn’t move to Boston to stay inside and be on the phone with a dude who won’t be in town for a few more weeks. Hit me up when you’re back in Boston.” I’m going to go out and life my life.
When it comes to sex toys, I’m Mary fucking Poppins. My bag is full of all sorts of tricks. I’d make a joke about how it’s a carpet bag but I’m exhausted after this week.
When packing for two months, I had to fit most of my life into one suitcase that I’d lug onto an Amtrak train. I reserved premium space for things like vitamins and my acupressure mat because I am ten thousand years old. I also brought books and beauty products (hellooooo Korean sheet masks) and workout clothes. But what I didn’t leave room for were toys. I left pretty much my entire collection behind because I didn’t think I was going to get laid here.
[Narrator voice]: That turned out to be a huge mistake.
Remember how I said I was going to be prickly and dry the entire time I was in Boston? Welp, I just had to wait a few more days until the beautiful, smart, successful Harvard/MIT motherfuckers came out of the woodwork.
I told my friend Zoey about all the hotties I've been encountering on Bumble (which has always been the app with the most attractive men, tbh):
Here’s the thing about Boston—everyone looks like they just popped out of an LL Bean catalog and everyone runs. Everyone runs. The only things I run away from are my intimacy issues and my desk if there’s free white sugar-based foods in a break room somewhere. (Just kidding; I don’t have intimacy issues, just weird thoughts about monogamy since my parents met and have stayed together since middle school. THANKS A LOT, YOU GUYS. Y’all are gross.) Because I didn’t know beforehand that Boston was such an athletic city, I didn’t anticipate meeting all of these men who are able to bench press me. And these are, like, 6-pack having athletes who travel for work and went to boarding school and know the exact amount of expensive cologne to use (which is one spritz that you spray in front of yourself and then walk through it).
[Side note: the other funny thing about Boston is because everyone here dresses so conservatively, I stick out like a sore thumb in my belly shirts and torn jeans and Doc Martens. Here’s what a Bumble dude had to say about it:
Now, for the last five-ish years, I had a type. I like my men like I like my peanut butter: chunky. I loved a good dad bod. Bellies were my kink. And if you had dark hair and tattoos? Forget it. I was gaga for you. The problem was when I put all of the men I dated into a collage and sent it to my friends, these were their reactions:
“They literally all look the same.” – Sophie
“They literally all look the same.” – Shanaz
“They look like a Pokemon evolution of the same man.” – Olive
A few weeks before I left New York, I had coffee with my friend Rob. “Now this is going to sound shitty of me, but what if all of the guys you dated had the same personalities because they had the same physical characteristics? Maybe you should date outside of your physical type and you’ll find fewer people who don’t treat you kindly.” Now here’s the thing. I date dads. I date guys who look like dads. I’m a slut for a pair of cargo shorts and a fanny pack with a Ziploc bag of Cheerios inside of it. I didn’t want to date outside my physical type. But I did want to date outside the personality type of men I’ve attracted in the past. (And I won't touch upon what exactly those personality types are because I don't speak ill of the dead. ps Happy Halloween)
Now one could argue that someone saying “All of my exes are blonde and dumb” and someone else replying “then stop dating blondes” is a similar scenario. But I decided to go along with Rob’s experiment. What if I dated something a little different than my usual?
My criteria for agreeing to go on a date with a Boston dude is as follows:
Couple those six things with physical attraction and turn me over, I’m done. That’s all you need to go on a date with me. It doesn’t sound very complicated, but it absolutely can be. By a pure stroke of luck, I decided to go on one date with someone last week from Bumble and in the end all I’m gonna say is that I really regretted not packing those toys.
So dating in Boston is fun. Moving on.
I made the fatal mistake of thinking I’d want to do a lot of stuff the first week I was here. I thought I would be homesick and discombobulated (both of which I totally was) and would need to make a lot of plans the evenings of the first week. I tend to get stressed out or sad in new situations and in the past, I’d fill up my schedule to distract myself from the discomfort. What I’ve learned about myself as I’ve gotten older is that I should just give myself a break. Let myself ease into things. Relax. I don’t need to keep myself busy 24/7 (which I am famous for doing).
What I had planned for the first week of my trip was a concert of a band I LOVE and a book signing by this badass feminist author I really respect. I ended up selling the concert tickets very easily (thank god), and stayed in the night of the reading (which was free, so it was all good) because this first week in Boston was exhausting. What I did instead was:
I decided that instead of doing everything at once, I’d make a goal to treat myself to one “big” excursion during the week and one on the weekend. And the best part is I’m doing all of these things on my own and LOVE it. I’ve flaked on a bunch of dates because I realized oh, I actually kind of want to do some of these things by myself. I might be the princess of Boston, but I'm also the QUEEN.
I made a Boston OKCupid profile four days before I moved there so I could start talking to people and get the lay of the land. Good idea, right? Sounds like fun? Promise me you’ll never do this. PROMISE ME.
I carefully mapped out my Eat, Drive, F*ck route to coincide with the best seasons of each city. So of course I decided to go to Boston in the fall (and Asheville in the winter because I hate New York winters, and Austin in the spring so I’m not there when it’s hot as balls). I was so excited to visit Boston during its best season. And then I went on an online dating site there.
I let people know about my trip in my dating profile so I’m upfront and honest about the fact that I’m just passing through. “How does Boston rank in comparison to the other cities you’ve visited?” almost all of these men ask me. And what I say in return is: “If the Boston OKC scene is representative of Boston as a whole, I will… not be putting roots down here.”
Here are a few first messages I received from Boston bros:
And I'll throw in an interaction from Bumble so you can really see what I'm working with:
Two days before I left, I started complaining to my friend Vanessa. “I don’t think I’m going to go on any dates in Boston. Boston guys aren’t as hot as NYC guys and I feel like a total asshole saying that.”
“Maybe you’ll take the next two months to ‘dry out,’” she said.
“’Dry out?’ Bitch, I’m gonna be jerky by the end of this trip.”
I was actually going to shave my bikini line and run to Babeland before my trip to pick up packets of lube before I left, but after a few days on Boston OKC, there was no use. Just like a home without HBO, there will be no sex in this city. I’ll be walking around prickly and dry, like one of those carpets made of fake grass.
I went over to my friend Dave’s house and told him about my disappointment. A Yale grad and Columbia Business School grad, I cracked up but wasn’t surprised when Dave opened his laptop, said “Let’s investigate this” and started crunching some numbers.
“The population of NYC is 8 million people. Half are men. So now we’re down to 4 million. About ten percent of those men identify as gay. Now we’re down to 3.6 million. And let’s say half of those hetero men are single. You’re used to a dating pool of roughly 1.5 million people.”
That sounded about right.
“Now let’s take a look at Boston. Its population is 600k people. If we do the same math, the dating pool there is about 150k people. It is a tenth of what you’re used to.”
I heard that math and was like FUCK. Vanessa also reminded me that people don’t come to Boston to become an actor or a musician or a model like they do in NYC. Because the thing about dating in NYC is that even though most of the men are kinda sorta man-children who don’t really know what they want, you can tolerate it at least for a little while because they’re hot. And I am a weak, weak woman when it comes to tattooed men with dark hair, which NYC is full of. If I want to get laid in Boston, I’ll have to pretend all these redheads’ freckles are just a ton of tiny brown circular tattoos. Connect the dots? I dunno. I’ll soldier through it.
And then I got here. When I got off the train and was waiting for my Lyft to my Airbnb, a strange man my dad’s age came up to me and asked if we could share a cab. When I told him I couldn’t help him, he called me “really fucking rude” and stormed off. (Ah, just like home. Already I was missing NYC!) That was my first interaction with a man in Boston.
So despite all of the inherent challenges when it comes to the Boston dating scene, I did set up very, very casual dates with three men:
Passionate about everything having to do with the body, Dana Hamilton writes about sex, dating, relationships, body image, and eating disorder recovery. She is a regular contributor to Playboy and her work has appeared in VICE, Cosmopolitan, Marie Claire, New York Magazine, Teen Vogue, and SELF, among other publications.