Yeah, yeah, yeah, I haven’t written about Hawaii yet. I KNOW. But guess what? I’ll be in NYC for a few weeks soon for work and will finally have the time to crank out a few blog posts about Hawaii. It’ll be worth it. Trust me.
But let’s talk about where I am now though. Denver. This is what I’m gonna say:
Denver is literal paradise.
It’s green, it’s sunny all the time, half the city is super cute and walkable (walkability is something I love about NYC and Boston) and the other half is all residential houses whose architecture I lust after, and it’s just relaxing as hell. The dispensaries are wonderful. You walk in, they scan your license, you pick out what you want, you pay, and then you're on your merry fucking way (aka HOW OBTAINING MARIJUANA IN EVERY STATE *SHOULD* BE). Everyone is chill. It was hard for me to find some good places to eat at first, but then with the guidance of a few new friends (and the dude I’m “dating” here—I mean “dating” in the sense that we go on dates together), I’ve found some good stuff. All in all, the city has good energy.
The only thing I take issue with is that it’s incredibly, painfully, noticeably white. It makes Asheville look like fuckin' Epcot, you guys.
Denver is a place I see myself visiting from time to time for vacation or whatever, but I sure as hell would never live here. Besides the lack of diversity, I had forgotten that, well, the altitude is a thing.
When I first got here, I thought I was becoming diabetic (which, if you know how I eat, wouldn’t be surprising at all to you—my food pyramid is essentially a pyramid made out of sugar cubes). I'd drink so much water but would still be constantly parched. For the first time in my life, my lips got so dry they started cracking (and, mind you, I’ve survived some pretty gnarly NY winters). I felt like shit the first week I got here. And then someone reminded me that we’re 5,000+ feet above sea level and that Denver has an incredibly dry climate.
“You never get used to it,” my Airbnb host told me. `
But anyway—I felt like I was getting sick, I felt wiped out, and then I started meeting some pretty shitty men.
As always, I encountered men that don't respect my boundaries:
Just a heads up that EVERY man who has ever harassed me has been someone who has told me they would never harass me. EVERY ONE has told me they'd respect my wishes if I decided to cut off contact. Every single fucking one of them. So a guy telling me “I would never do that” means absolutely nothing—and men should realize this before they say it. “That’s not me”? I have no fucking idea if that is indeed the case or not. So just tell me you’re sorry that it happens to me a lot and show me by your actions instead of your words that you would never do such a thing.
Then, the next guy, WHO STARTED OFF SO COOL AND KIND, randomly texted me the day before we met (guys *always* fuck it up at the 11th hour, I swear to GOD) that he was looking forward to meeting me the next day and… was feeling frisky while watching a hockey game with his friends (???) and was planning on going home to masturbate (you guys, I don’t even fucking know anymore):
Then it just came down to this, honestly:
Eventually, I figured, you know what? I’m only in Denver for a month. I don’t have to date. Why don’t I focus on some self-care? And so I did! I started reading an incredible novel (How Should A Person Be by Sheila Heti) and swimming laps on my lunch break, did things like take an hour-long walk from my place to the Denver Botanic Gardens (where I took some tincture and stared at a baby bunny eating grass for, like, an hour), and started pitching magazine articles again. I texted all the guys who I had been talking to on various apps and had given my number to: “Listen. I don’t think I’m going to date in Denver. Take care.” I was going to devote my energy towards building some friendships. Because, at the end of the day, I didn’t have the emotional energy to date, but I always love meeting new people and wanted some friends to do shit with without any sexual expectations.
And I did! I met a few really awesome women on Bumble BFF—and I know what you’re thinking. Trust me, I felt like a total weirdo going on an app to find new friends, but it is actually a fabulous tool when you move to a new place and don’t know anyone. I met someone for lunch one day to make sure we got along and the next day she recommended a place for my first tubing experience, which was so fun. I highly recommend Bumble BFF.
Next, I met a nice person on social media (ah, the modern world!) who lives in Denver and he showed me a great place to eat. [Please note that I never meet up with people from social media, especially if they're under 35 and/or single (and he was neither). So if you’re a dude reading this and are like, “I’m gonna slide into her DMs,” LOL, buddy. It ain’t gonna happen unless you’re Adam Pally.] But anyway, he, a fellow East Coaster (!) and I went out and had a great time. New friends for the win!
And then something interesting happened. Remember when I texted all the dudes I met on apps, “I’m not going to date in Denver BYE”? One of those guys reached out and said he truly only wanted to meet me because he thought I was interesting (to be fair, my OKCupid profile is incredible) and that he’s nonmonogamous with a few partners, so he truly wasn’t looking to go out solely for romantic/sexual reasons. We didn't have to go on a date. If I wanted to make another new friend, we could meet up.
I figured that if we met up and it was clear that he was manipulating me, I could tear him a new orifice. And if he was a genuine guy, I'd make a few pal. He turned out to be pretty great. After our first meetup, I conceded and said we could call it a date. Mostly because he’s really hot and charming and I really wanted to fuck him. Then we ended up going on three dates over the course of four days.
In every city, because I’m naturally monogamous and, well, exhausted as fuck as I travel, my ideal scenario has always been to meet someone and have a regular hookup until I leave. It just makes things easier (and safer). And, to my surprise, this person suggested us doing that. That he wanted to hang out with me as many times as we could before I left.
He’s also the kinda guy who opens the car door (not necessary at ALL, but adorable and appreciated), calls me pretty instead of cute (I hate when people call me cute—I’m not a puppy; I’m a grownass woman), thinks of super creative date ideas (my weakness), and, well, the sex is also incredible.
So that’s a good thing that’s going on. We both understand the situation for what it is and intend on being friends after I leave. I really lucked out.
And that's not even the best part! The main reason I even came to Denver was because I was attending the annual AASECT conference, which is a conference for sex therapists and sex educators. The first day of the conference, as I sat in the ballroom of a hotel surrounded by 700 people, I was on the verge of tears the entire time. These were people who talked about sex openly, thought of it as the most normal thing in the world, and were devoting their lives to helping people achieve healthy, amazing, joyful sex lives and preventing sexual violence. I have never felt more at home. It's hard when the rest of society views your passion as something weird or icky or uncomfortable that shouldn't be talked about. These were my people.
I attended lectures about how doctors are finding new ways to prevent STIs among women in underserved areas (that talk was by the amazing Maria Trent), vaginal rejuvenation, how to enhance pleasure for people with clitorises (Laurie Mintz is a GODDESS; buy her books), the ethics of disclosing personal details as a sex therapist, a comprehensive overview of pedophilia (one of the most interesting presentations I’ve ever seen, led by Michael Seto), the psychology of gay men’s cuckholding fetishes, intimacy on the asexual spectrum, a case study on the treatment of sexual aversion (i.e. non-asexual people who are not finding pleasure in sex), sex and cancer, empowering young women to advocate for their sexual pleasure (led by New York Times’ bestselling author on the subject, Peggy Orenstein, who is a total force of nature—I want to be her when I grow up), the taboos and myths around sex dolls, and how BDSM can help solve sexual trauma. I was in heaven, you guys. Literal heaven.
I also exchanged business cards with many, many people, had impromptu talks about my work, and made connections within the field spanning the country and beyond.
I told my friends this:
I'm digging you, Denver.
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.