Sunday, December 20, 2015

Dating With a Disability, Part 1 of 5

As a triple amputee, dating can be tough.  I am a triple amputee, and this is my true dating story. 

I went through high school and college without a true “date.”  While I wanted to date, I could understand why it did not happen.  I had come to believe that the chances of finding a life partner were extremely slim. 

I was 24 years old when I met Mike.  He lived in Los Angeles; I lived in San Diego.  We met at a dinner dance for the club I belonged to called Amputees in Motion (AIM).   He was a driver and had picked up several people who could not drive themselves.  I saw him across the room.  He stood out because he was so tall (6 feet 4 inches I learned later) with gorgeous red hair.  He had not seen me yet.

For me, it was love at first sight but I quickly pushed it out of my consciousness.  By this time, I had become quite sinister to the idea of ever meeting a man, let alone the man of my dreams.  I was convinced that my physical state was too great to go unnoticed.  At this point, I had no more illusions that my disability was simply an incidental detail.  Rather, it was actually a heavy burden that I often wondered if I could continue to carry.  After all, it had already altered my choice of career, prevented a promotion for which I was qualified, and at 24 I had still not had a real date.  It was very difficult to stay optimistic.

To my surprise, the tall red-head asked if he could join our table of 5.  He was solo and reasoned that we needed 1 to fill our table of 6.  I couldn’t believe my luck.  There he was at our table.  The dinner was great, and the conversation was lively.  We learned that his name was Mike, he was a building engineer, and he lived in Los Angeles.  He was also a photographer and took pictures of the AIM events throughout the year.  I wondered if he had an amputation since this was, after all, an amputee club, but he said simply that he was a volunteer driver for those who needed a ride.  I could tell right away that he was fun to be around.

As we moved to the dance room, he came with us.  Good grief, I was exploding with joy.  The tables at the dance floor were very small and could sit only 2 people.  Soon Mike was sitting with me – just us – alone!  I was reluctant to like him so I doubly reinforced the defensive walls around me, insulating me from getting too close and being heartbroken.  I told him that he did not have to humor me by sitting with me, that he should go dance.  He replied calmly, “I don’t like to dance.”  I told him that I didn’t want him doing something different just because I could not dance.  He told me he did not like to dance, that he was just the driver and photographer.  With that out of the way, we went on to have a great time.  The dance went on around us. 

When the time came for him to leave, he asked if he could see me again.  I was speechless initially but I said sure, even though I truly expected to never see him again.  I knew I really liked him but some painful encounters with reality were still fresh.  Getting my hopes up was not an option.  However, as my friends and I returned to San Diego, I thought about the night and the good time I had.  Apparently, I was uncharacteristically quiet, and the women I rode with confessed that they too thought there was something in the air between Mike and me.  I told them I didn’t think so but deep inside I hoped they were right.

Mike did call about 2 weeks later and asked if he could come to San Diego and take me to dinner.  I was quite surprised and very excited.  He said it would take about 2 hours to get to my house.  I had just enough time to shower and dress for my first real date.  I was 24.