Mike arrived as promised. He drove a silver Datsun 240-Z. Impressive. He shared with me the pictures he had taken at our dinner dance. He did great photography work, and I learned that he had a dark room in his home. I learned that he was a stationary engineer and head project manager for the construction of high-rise office buildings in Los Angeles and San Francisco. He seemed very intelligent. I was riveted to the descriptions of his work responsibilities and I was very impressed at his knowledge. It seemed like he could fix anything – plumbing, mechanical, electrical, construction – everything. Playfully, I asked him if he could fix my wheelchair if it broke. He quickly said yes – he never hesitated or even asked if what broke. I loved everything I was learning about him. As an added bonus, my cat seemed to like him and she was very discriminating!
Mike was absolutely wonderful, very attentive, genuine, romantic, and, best of all, interested in me. I felt like a woman for the very first time in my life. To him, I was Monica the young woman, not a disabled person who needed assistance. He held doors open because he was a gentleman, not because he thought I could not open a door. What a refreshing experience. Amazingly, there was no awkward erroneous first impression to squirm through. In Mike’s company, I didn’t have to prove anything or be the best at something. There were no stares, glares, or pity in his eyes. He didn’t need or want accolades for taking an amputee on a date. I felt elevated to a place higher than I had ever been before. I liked it.
We had a wonderful evening. I hated to see him go. Before Mike got into his car for the long drive back to Los Angeles, he bent down quickly and kissed me. I was in a fog as I watched him get into his car. I heard him say that he would like to see me again if it was okay. I wanted to scream from the mountaintop that it was okay and tear down my walls but I held back. I was sure the other shoe would fall. He was simply too good to be true.
Mike and I saw each other every weekend for almost a year. He drove to San Diego or I drove to Los Angeles. We had some incredible dates and learned that we were very compatible with similar philosophies, beliefs and goals. We visited almost every local tourist attraction such as Disneyland, Seaworld, Balboa Park, Knotts Berry Farm, San Diego Zoo, etc. We walked many times on the Santa Monica Pier and the Oceanside Pier just listening to the ocean. We took a one-week vacation to Yosemite National Park. The weekends were always too short. Once in a while I dared to wish he did not have to leave.
After a time, the question of sexual intimacy came up. Oh my goodness – he was knocking on every wall I had so carefully and deliberately crafted. There was no way I could imagine being naked in front of him. After continued rejections, Mike gently suggested that I let him know when I was ready. My initial thought was, “Ready? Are you serious? I will never be ready.” Public reactions to my appearance with clothes was tough enough.
In addition, I was beginning to have some nagging questions, “Why would a seemingly normal guy with a great job, a great car, and a home of his own be interested in me? Why would he, or anyone for that matter, intentionally choose a person with 3 missing limbs? It was quite obvious he could date anyone he wanted. What was I missing? What was he hiding?” I needed answers.
I told my family all about Mike and how I felt about him. They were cautiously happy for me but echoed many of my own concerns. Even Grandma said initially, “Be careful.”
No matter how hard I waited to see a different side of Mike, however, I never saw one. I continued to ask him, “Why me?” He replied that he honestly didn’t understand it either. He never planned to date a triple amputee but he had never met anyone like me. He said he had no real explanation except that I was kind, intelligent, funny, generous, thoughtful, compassionate, trustworthy, honest, and… beautiful. Beautiful. No one ever called me that before. However, I was still not convinced that positive character traits compensated in any way for 3 missing limbs. I continued to ask the “why me” questions over and over and over again. He always simply said that he enjoyed my company, I made him feel loved, and he had no further explanation. His actions alone were starting to convince me that maybe we were falling in love. Ironically, although I didn’t know it then, he was thinking I was too good to be true and he wondered why I would want him. It was obvious, however, that we were getting in deeper and deeper.
The moment I thought would never come finally did. I was ready for intimacy. My first time making love was magical and mesmerizing. I was now totally convinced that this relationship was for the long term. This guy was genuine. He had finally convinced me that I was attractive, desirable, and beautiful. My confidence skyrocketed. I was falling fast and deeply in love. Mike was too. However, the road to our ultimate happiness was about to become rather bumpy.