Most couples dream of their first vacation together, spent lounging on the beach, having blissful sex, and enjoying fight-free nights. Instead, I went on vacation with my new girlfriend just a month into our relationship. We spent the trip in a sea of half-naked lesbians, endless cans of Babe Rosé, and fighting.
I'm an editor at a lesbian publication and I had to go to the Dinah Shore for work. For those of you who don’t know, the Dinah Shore is the biggest, most debaucherous lesbian party in, like, the entire universe, held every year in Palm Springs, California. You know how they say never fall in love at the Jersey Shore? Yeah, same goes for never bring your girlfriend to the Dinah Shore.
So, despite my better judgment, and the urging and pleading from my friends, I invited my girlfriend to the lesbo version of Disneyland.
Let’s start with the flight there. I had no idea my flying anxiety was embarrassingly-through-the-roof intense. Ryan and I were seated in separate rows on the plane. I felt a twinge of panic at the thought of not sitting next to her, but I tried to calm myself down. No big deal, I thought, just order a glass of Sauv Blanc, STAT. But when we started to take off, I felt a pang in my chest. I couldn’t catch my breath.
Once Ryan turned back to look at me, tears were streaming down my face as I silently sobbed in my seat. I kept mouthing, “I love you,” then getting even more hysterical. Me? Dramatic? Never.
But instead of thinking I was ridiculous, she was unbelievably kind to me, mouthed back words of encouragement, and refused to turn around until I was OK. That only made me cry more — because I’ve never had someone care about me like that.
OK, so cut to the hotel. In my usual worst-luck-ever fashion, there was a massive problem checking in. After 20 minutes of phone calls, we were finally able to settle into a room. We had to share a hotel room with my amazing managing editor and her friend, which was a ton of fun, but sort of put a damper on the hours of uninterrupted, roommate-free sex I had promised Ryan when I was trying to convince her to come. (Unlike me, she isn’t a ratchet party girl and wasn’t thrilled at the prospect of a three-day, bikinis-and-booze fest.)
The festival's first day was unbelievable. I had never witnessed so many beautiful queer women in one spot in my life. We were surrounded by palm trees, thong bikinis, and intense lesbian energy. We were inundated with sweat and rosé. The speakers vibrated Cardi B songs so hard, my boobs shook.
Ryan and I had previously agreed that we were too evolved to have a typical lez jealousy fight at Dinah, and that we were allowed to flirt with other people on our trip. She didn’t so much as clench her jaw when butches stopped to ogle my breasts. She hardly batted an eye when a drunk woman asked if I could finger her with my prosthetic arm. She maintained her composure when a sexy, blue-haired femme asked if I would take a break to come up to her hotel room.
We were doing amazing, sweetie. That is until my now-arch nemesis, Susanne* approached my magazine’s booth. She blatantly flirted with Ryan, which was fine. Hot, even. I like knowing my girlfriend is desired. But then, Susanne asked for Ryan’s number for “professional” purposes. Fast-forward to later that day, and I was frantically scrolling through Ryan's phone while she was in the bathroom. She caught me in the act.
We had our first real fight in the middle of a literal twerk competition. “I don’t trust that b*tch!” I shrieked as some girl’s butt cheeks clapped a mile a minute and the swaggy lez MC kept yelling, “Turn up! Turn up! Turn up!” We had our first relationship fight smack in the middle of party central. She promised not to text back Susanne. I promised to never snoop again.
Day two was all about the shopping. I got Ryan a shirt that says “Tombae” and myself a shirt that says “Let there be lesbians.” She got me a “Dinah Hoe” shirt, and that is how I now sexually identify. We got “top” and “bottom” bracelets (though I really am a switch, honey), which is equal parts embarrassing and iconic. Ryan also treated my editors and friends to bracelets, which made me fall even more in love with her — gifts and generosity are my love language. She even helped hand out magazines while I excitedly splashed around the pool and made a fool of myself trying unsuccessfully to hoist myself onto a unicorn float (was doing it for the ‘gram). I forgot all about our fight, and was mesmerized by how much I appreciated her.
On day three, we escaped the madness and visited Pioneertown, which seems straight out of Lana Del Rey's fantasies. It's a magical desert land filled with biker daddies, hot/sad girls, and Americana galore. We embarked on a three-hour Uber journey while blasting the Paradise album. Mountains and motorcycles whizzed by us while we sipped tequila out of water bottles and let our hands dangle out the windows.
Once we arrived at the most amazing bar on earth, Pappy and Harriet’s, my girlfriend took a million photos of me, which is my other love language. We had an incredible time, drinking, laughing, dancing to a live band that played the best cover of "Born to Be Wild" I have ever heard, and stuffing our faces with BBQ. It was one of the most magical nights of my life.
Until it was time to go home. You see, we hadn’t really thought out the fact that there is zero cell service in Pioneertown. I mean, we were literally in the middle of the desert. There were no Ubers coming to get us. After what seemed like hours of desperately walking around trying to get service, and the restaurant unsuccessfully trying to call us a cab, we were just about ready to give up and take our chances sleeping on the side of the road and getting eaten by rattlesnakes. But the hostess was kind enough to drive us back to the hotel. Bless her.
On the way back, we lamented that we were missing the threesome we had planned with the blue-haired girl. But I couldn't stop thinking about how much I loved Ryan.
That night, as we exhaustedly stumbled back in the hotel, grateful to be back in civilization, I couldn’t wait to pass out in the clean, rattlesnake-free bed. But Ryan grabbed my hand and booked it for the pool. I couldn’t protest the child-like excitement in her eyes. I stripped, careful to remove my prosthetic arm and set her down gently, and followed Ryan’s ecstatic dive into the pool.
You know those perfect moments, that are so perfect that writing about them would only seem cheesy AF? Yeah, that’s how I feel about how perfect being in that pool with her was. It was the first quiet, alone moment we’d had in days. My ears were still ringing from the DJs blasting EDM. We were surrounded by nothing but silence, moonlight, and palm trees. We kissed with the excitement and hunger of a first kiss, but with the familiarity and comfort of the real deal. I realize this sounds a little intense, because we had only been officially dating for a month, but as I write this, she's lying next to me listening to an audiobook (lil nerd cutie). We've been together for six months. So far, so good.
After that exquisite moment, of course, came the return to the series of unfortunate events that are my life. At the airport, my suitcase was super overweight (80 pounds, to be exact). I was like, "Whatever, I'll pay for it." But Ryan calmly dragged my suitcase back off the line and moved stuff around like she was splitting the atom. She had it under control, and saved me $100.
We had to sit separately on the plane home, and once again, I had a panic attack. It was so bad that the kind woman next to me offered to hold my hand and let me share her headphones to watch Big Little Lies. As soon as the flight was over, I said goodbye to my new friend — shout-out to Trish, I love you forever, girl — and rushed off the plane to find Ryan. We showered each other in kisses. We probably looked as though we had been apart for three months instead of seven hours.
When we finally returned to her Brooklyn apartment, I felt like we had survived something. Our first relationship milestone, perhaps. If we could get through a sea of topless babes, getting stranded in the desert, two panic attacks, and one terrible fight, then maybe we could make it for real.
*Name has been changed.
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