Let me pick up the story from where my last post ended…
To recap, I’d had a series of disastrous dates with guys I had met via Tinder. I was about to abandon all hope of finding my One True Love and was planning my life as a reclusive Cat Lady. That is, until George’s face appeared on my app. As they say, the rest is history…
Here’s how our story goes. I was laying in bed one Monday night and thought I’d have my last hurrah on Tinder. I was coming to the end of my tether with the whole online dating malarkey and was all set to delete the app the following day but felt one final gander was required. Now I can be quite picky and after declining a number of guys, George’s smiley face filled my phone screen. I swiped right and to my delight found that we had matched!
Not long after we matched, George struck up conversation with an opening line I’ll never forget – “Good God, what is a woman like you doing on an app like this?”. We swiftly struck up a rapport and I found myself thinking that I might have actually found someone who could string a sentence together and who wasn’t your typical “lad”. We messaged for a good few hours until he asked for my number and I insisted on some sleep as I was heading into hospital early the following day for some chronic pain management injections (this bit of information was omitted from our conversation at this point). We bid each other goodnight and that was that.
The following day I was obviously quite distracted. I was at the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital for pain killing steroid injections into my lower back – all part of a plan to manage aspects of my chronic pain – and the last thing I was thinking of was the boy I had recently been talking to on Tinder. That being said, as I arrived back on the ward from theatre, my phone buzzed and there was George asking how my day was going and what I was up to. Now my previous post tackled the range of ways a person with a disability can manage the delicate issue of disclosing their condition. I decided on this occasion to put myself out there and reveal that I have a disability and am currently in hospital for treatment to manage particular difficulties which arise. How else could I explain the fact I wouldn’t be able to meet up for a few days? I didn’t want to generate some ridiculous excuse which I would no doubt forget at a later date.
His reaction surprised me. It didn’t seem to put him off one bit! We continued talking until later in the week when he asked if I wanted to meet up for some food. I was due to be flying to New York for my birthday the following week and life was pretty busy in the run up to my departure. However I knew that I wanted to meet him before I went and he certainly was keen to go out sooner rather than later (he later revealed that he was so nervous, he knew if he had to wait any longer he would “bottle it”). We arranged to meet for lunch at a pub local to me on Saturday, about five days after we started talking. I was really excited!
When I first started online dating I devised a series of tactics which with hindsight I realise were more self protective measures. One of these was that I would always arrive somewhere first to avoid the awkward stare as I walked in on two crutches with my gait rivaling that of Pingu. I employed these very tactics for our date and got myself to the pub nice and early. George appeared pretty much bang on time (brownie points) and even arrived with flowers (extra brownie points)!
Lunch flew by and it soon became early evening. We had talked non-stop and had discussed every detail of my disability, even down to the nitty gritty bits which I would never usually tell on a first date. We both admitted that it felt like we had known each other for a long time and agreed that we wanted to see each other again thus setting a date for when I returned from New York. However the following morning we decided that this date was too far away and met later the day to see a film. (NB. This has become a source of contention in our relationship. I’m adamant we saw Paddington. He’s adamant we saw Hunger Games. Obviously I’m right, but I think this will be debated until we are both old and grey!).
After those initial dates, time just seemed to fly by. George and I soon became “official” and our lives became intertwined. I had finally met someone who accepted me in every conceivable way, from the wonky walk to the catheter and back to the wheelchair. It’s not that he didn’t and doesn’t care about these things, its just that he doesn’t see them as the traits which define me. In his words, these things are part of what have made me the person I am, but they are not my identity.
I am fortunate that I have found someone who accepts my limitations and helps me to overcome these and at the same time pushes me to further develop and utilise my strengths to become a better person. I have found a guy who will laugh with me (and at me), who will support me when I am struggling and who will kick me up the butt when I’m feeling sorry for myself. He really is one of a kind.
I’ve said some awfully mushy things about George in this post, so I’ll end it with a short story which sums up our relationship quite nicely…
George and I have a catchphrase which came from one of our more memorable Saturday adventures. We were wandering around the RAF Museum in Hendon with his young nephew when he stopped my wheelchair, turned me towards him and told me he loved me for the first time.
I took a few seconds to register this, shrugged my shoulders, looked him in the eyes and with a smile told him “meh, you’ll do”.