Cassie’s life-changing Hawaiian trip!


Aloha, bitches! Not to be a braggy brat, but I just got back from a fabulous vacation in Maui. I have the best husband in the world. He came home a few weeks ago and asked, “I need a vacation, where do you wanna go?” I jokingly said Hawaii. When I came home that night he said our trip was booked. I was like, “No way.” He was like, “Yes way!” It was a very Wayne and Garth moment, except our exchange ended with a kiss instead of an air guitar duet.

It really was a dream vacation. We did things that we have always talked about doing, including anal. Winky face! We went paddle-boarding (or should I say, we attempted to paddle-board). Standing on that thing is hard when you have the balancing skills of a drunk baby.

I was raped by a rogue wave that ripped off my swim trunks and had its way with me. One second I was fine, frolicking like you do when in the ocean, the next second I was tumbling in circles under water. I finally got my bearings and realized I was naked and my trunks were being washed onto the shore. Luckily, a nice old lady brought them out to me giggling the whole time. I let her get a look at the goods so we both got something out of it.

We had a great experience doing an ATV tour at Kahoma Ranch. Surprisingly, I really loved it. I felt so butch with my helmet, goggles and bandanna over my mouth. We looked like something out of Mad Max. We drove the ATV up the side of a mountain with a big group of vacationers. It started out in this dry desert area, kicking up red dust and dirt everywhere, but the further up we went the more lush and green it got. We stopped at this beautiful hidden oasis with two water slides that flowed into this big lovely pond surrounded by fruiting trees. It was what I picture the Garden of Eden probably looked like if it had a changing area. It even had peacocks that would walk right up to you and try to take your granola bar.

I have to say, as an effeminate gay man with very thin drag eyebrows and the kind of voice that is a great example of why there is a documentary called Do I Sound Gay, I am usually quite uncomfortable around a lot of straight people. Our adorable tour guides Justin (yes both of them were named Justin) made me feel very “included” in the day’s events. When we got to the swimming hole, one of the Justins walked with my husband Jamie and me and answered a bunch of questions we had about the island and encouraged us to go swimming with everyone. Then he picked a guava off a tree and shared it with me. He put me at ease and made me feel like part of the group.

We put on our swim trunks and went down one of the slides. It was “refreshing,” which is code for chilly. Talk about shrivel city! Cold water is the best tucker. We swam out to the floating platform in the middle of the pond and basked in the sun. We took a moment to take a mental snapshot to try to remember how good it felt to be there in that moment: Content, in love and happy. Corny I know, but its moments like that one that make some of life’s harder parts easier to bear.

The ride back down the mountain was even more fun. There were more hills and turns that were surprising and exhilarating. It was like a roller coaster in the dirt. When we got back to the base camp, we were filthy. Every inch of exposed skin and our clothes were completely red-orange. We looked like big, gay Oompa Loompas. Later that day, when I cleaned up, the bathroom looked like the shower scene from Psycho, but in color, ribbons of red flowing down the drain.

That same day I had a God moment.

I have a small fear of sharks. I am one of those people that think if I am ever in a plane crash, we will crash in the ocean so a shark can eat me. I saw the movie Jaws when I was 5. I remember watching the movie in my aunt Zina’s lap and clawing the crap out of her with my little kid nails. I didn’t even like to sit in the bathtub after seeing that damn movie. It scared me and scarred me.

Even as an adult, every time I am swimming in a lake and I am treading water, all I can think about is that iconic movie poster. I picture myself as that naked lady at the top of the poster with the giant shark, mouth open with a billion teeth below me about to swallow me up. I know it’s stupid but that is the kind of shit that goes through my mind when I am in the water. So imagine my thoughts when Jamie said, “Let’s go snorkeling.”

My shark fear is not crippling but I do get anxiety. But we were in Hawaii so I was not going to let a childhood fear keep me from trying something new. We got our snorkeling gear and did it. I will admit that when I was above water looking out at the horizon, at nothing but endless ocean I started to have a small panic attack but I calmed myself down and went under water. I loved it. It was so peaceful and serene. The water was so beautiful and clear. We could see so many fish swimming around coral and rocks on the ocean floor. We saw a bunch of little striped zebra looking fish. A few that looked like Dory from Finding Nemo and whole lotta bright yellow beauties. It was so cool.

Then it happened! Jamie and I were above water talking about how awesome it was and how out of shape we are, when a dark shadow passed near us. My butthole immediately clenched and my heart raced as I prepared to live my life with only one arm or leg, if I survived at all. Jaws had come for me. Jamie looked under water and said, “Oh my God, it’s a sea turtle!” Every bit of fear or anxiety left me. I put on my goggles and went under. There he was, the most beautiful creature I have ever seen.

Side note: Anyone who knows me knows I have an obsession with turtles and tortoises. I have three pet tortoises at home and love all things Testudine. I think it started as a kid when my mom told me she cried when she first saw me after I was born. She said I looked like a turtle.
My grandmother told her to shut up. I remember the first time my mom told me that story, my Grandma Christine told me that turtles are beautiful. So I guess turtles remind me of my Grandma and how completely awesome she was.

We swam alongside that turtle for a while, following him as he came up for air a few times. He would look over at us every once in a while and didn’t seem bothered or afraid of us at all. His pace never quickened. He just flew effortlessly through the water. He had the most beautiful eyes, brownish green with flecks of gold. I will never forget his eyes. Jamie and I held hands as we swam next to him. I had a moment of complete joy. No fear, just love. In that moment, I felt closer to God than I have ever felt in a church or anywhere else. I will never forget it.

After that experience, I am hooked. I can’t wait to go snorkeling again, but we don’t have a whole lot of options for that here in North Texas. I guess it is time to start saving for next year. I am going to try to do more things that scare me.

Love more, bitch less and be fabulous! XOXO, Cassie Nova.

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This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition October 16, 2015.