When I started writing this online journal,
I had planned to write more regular updates, but it seemed like I never had time because I'm always busy doing something.
A couple of my net friends have requested that I write an update about what has been happening in my life, so I decided to
make time to do it. The last two years has definitely been exciting for me, which I'll explain why in this entry.
I'm still writing a regular column pertaining
to disability issues for my local newspaper. An interview that I conducted with my maternal grandmother was published in a
book of oral histories of local people. The books authors were in the writing group that I belong to, so I suggested to them
that they interview my grandmother for their book project. While they were visiting Maw-Maw and I to discuss the possibility
of an interview, Maw-Maw shocked and embarrassed me when she asked them if I could interview her because she would feel more
comfortable talking to me. Surprisingly, they allowed me to conduct and transcribe the entire interview, and I sincerely appreciated
their confidence in my writing ability. It was exciting and an honor to be a small contributor to a book!
I've suffered a few personal tragedies including
my paternal grandmother's passing in March 2001 and the unexpected deaths of a couple of other family members. The most exciting
thing that has happened since my last journal entry is that I've met a very special man! Although I had a few boyfriends when
I was in elementary school, I've never had a real romantic relationship during my adolescent years and through my 20s. Not
being asked on dates when I was in high school was disappointing and frustrating, so that's probably why I concentrated so
much on academics because it helped me keep my self-esteem up to be considered a good student.
Not having a significant other bothered me
more after I graduated from high school because most of my classmates were getting married and having families, and I felt
like I was being left behind. Although I desired a man's attention, I kept these feelings to myself because I didn't think
a man would want to date a woman who had so many physical limitations that I have. I tried to accept that dating was probably
one of the things I would never experience because of my CP. So, I concentrated on my writing because it gave me something
meaningful to do with my life.
When I first got the Internet, I vowed to
myself (and my parents) that I wouldn't give people who I met online too much personal information about myself because I'm
well aware that there are con artists online waiting to pounce. I had no intention of starting a romantic relationship with
anyone who I happened to meet online, but I felt safe e-mailing people who visit this site and who e-mail me. (In fact, I
met so many nice people on the net that it has become very difficult for me to stay in touch with all of them.) I also believed
that if any man showed a romantic interest in me, he must have ulterior motives because I didn't think I could be attractive
to anyone thanks to my disability.
In October 2000, I received a nice e-mail
from a man who had visited my site, and he was complimentary about my site. Matt also told me that he had mild CP and that
he was in a country music band. Although I already knew we had at least two things in common since we both have CP and are
music fans, there wasn't anything unusual about his e-mail except he also sent a photo of himself taken during one of his
concerts. I did wonder why he sent me a picture, but I didn't think of it as being anything except a friendly gesture. He
also mentioned that he wanted to create a web site too, but he didn't know if he could. So, I e-mailed him back and told him
that I was sure he could do it since I had created one, and I gave him a few tips about how to start a site.
He e-mailed me back and said he was going
to nickname me "Lightning" because I had replied so quickly. This comment made me laugh, and I soon found out he has a great
sense of humor and is a natural born comedian. We soon became great friends as we learned we had more and more in common,
and we e-mailed each other almost every day.
As our friendship grew, I began to wonder
if he was attracted to me by the little things that he said. Although I remembered my promise to myself about not starting
a romantic relationship on the net, I was also attracted to him, but I didn't admit this to him right away. He made me feel
very special when he told me for the first time that I was beautiful, but I was convinced he just said that to be nice. For
the first time in my life, I felt like a real woman because no other man had shown an attraction to me before! Although I
thought Matt was a wonderful guy whom I was beginning to trust more and more, I knew I had to be extremely careful.
I wasn't sure what to do when he asked for
my address because he wanted to mail me a video of a performance by the band that he's in. I ignored his question for a while,
but he kept asking it ever so often. My parents knew we had been e-mailing for almost a month, so I asked them about what
I should do. I was surprised when they told me it would be all right if I gave him our address, and that's what I did. I couldn't
believe how nervous I was when I started watching the video because this the first time I saw Matt playing his guitar! I enjoyed
the concert very much, and I especially liked watching Matt. I only wished there had been more close-ups of him.
As a Christmas gift that year, I made him
a video of me at home. I didn't know what he would think when he saw my awkward movements, and I believed he wouldn't be able
to understand what I said. He seemed to really like the video since he told me I should go to Hollywood. (Yes, he's a sweet
talker!) I was pleasantly surprised when he commented on some of the things I said on the video because that showed me that
he understood my impaired speech.
We started chatting on the net in December.
He surprised me once again because he didn't seem to mind at all that I was a slow typist when we chatted, and he enjoyed
chatting with me for hours at a time. We soon called our conversations on the net "chat dates," which became a weekly ritual
for us. I enjoyed these dates immensely as Matt and I got to know each other better.
Soon Matt asked me for my phone number, but
I was hesitant about giving it to him. I felt more comfortable chatting with him on the net because my other friends have
a very difficult time understanding me, especially on the phone, so I was sure Matt would also have trouble. He gave me his
phone number and kept reassuring me that he would be able to understand me because he had been around other disabled people
all his life. After a few months, I finally called him. Even though I allowed him to do most of the talking that first time,
I was pleasantly surprised that he understood what I did say.
We began talking on the phone more frequently,
and it amazed me how well Matt could understand almost everything I said! No one outside of my immediate family has ever been
able to understand my speech that well so quickly. He says he can understand me because he attended school with other disabled
students, and he always had the ability to understand his classmates with speech problems even though some of them had worse
verbal impairments than I do. I believe he is blessed with a special gift to be able to communicate with speech impaired individuals
so well! It's so wonderful to be able to talk to him and not worry about whether he can understand me!
The next challenge Matt and I faced was meeting
each other in person because we live many miles away from each other. My parents were willing to take me to meet Matt at his
home, but we had to find someone to drive us because they aren't comfortable about driving on long trips. My uncle and aunt
were kind enough to be our chauffeurs, so we headed to meet Matt in May 2001.
Since it was late in the evening when we
arrived in the town where he lives because it took us approximately eight hours to get there, we decided to wait until the
next day to meet Matt. I barely slept at all that night at the motel because I was so excited and nervous about meeting him!
As we drove the short distance to his house the next morning, I kept wondering if I had lost my mind because I couldn't believe
what I was doing. It seemed surreal that I was actually going to meet the guy that I thought of as my boyfriend. This was
definitely the wildest thing I have ever done!
Matt came out to greet us as we got out of
the car. Everyone had gotten out except me, who was still in the back seat. I watched Matt as he chatted with my family, and
I wondered if he would ever look my way! Finally, he smiled and waved at me, so I smiled and waved back. Mom told me to come
on out of the car since I was taking my time because I didn't know if my legs would hold me up since my knees felt so weak.
I remember Matt walking backwards in front of us as he watched Mom help me walk up the ramp to his home, and I wondered what
he was thinking about me.
That was the beginning of a very special
and memorable time for me as Matt and I spent our first two days together. He showered me with gifts and made me feel like
a lady by insisting to pay for my meal when we ate at a restaurant. Since I had never dated before, all the little things
that we did like holding hands and watching the stars appear in the evening sky were magical and romantic!
I was probably more nervous about meeting
Matt's parents than I was about meeting him because I didn't know how they would feel about Matt dating someone with so many
physical limitations as I have. Matt's CP is much different than mine because he's able to do more for himself. In fact, he
lives independently. I was pleasantly surprised that his parents treated me like I didn't have a disability, and they seemed
genuinely happy that Matt and I are dating.
Although I haven't had a chance to visit
Matt since then, he has visited me three times. His parents came with him the first two times, but he drove the long way by
himself the last trip he made in April to see me. It meant a lot to me to know that he cares enough about me to drive all
that way just to be with me for a few days! Not many of my friends who live close to me will take the time to visit me as
often as Matt does.
September 11, 2001 was a tragic and terrifying
day that all Americans will always remember, and it was certainly a memorable day and week for me! Matt was visiting me that
week, so we watched all the horrifying news coverage of the terrorist attack. I certainly had mixed emotions then because
I was excited and happy to be with Matt, but I also felt sadness, fear, confusion, and anger about what was happening in New
York. I'm glad Matt and I were together on that day because it was comforting to be with him.
Matt and I stay in constant contact by e-mail
or chatting on the net and phone, and we're looking forward to the next time we can be together. I have a link to Matt's web
site (Jamin' With C.P.) on all my pages, which I encourage you to visit to learn more about him and how he became a guitarist
in spite of his disability. (He's a great musician, and of course, I'm his biggest fan!) We're planning to create a new web
site about our special relationship; so hopefully, we'll have it up soon.
Although I now know that it's possible to
meet trustworthy people on the Internet, I still believe it's best to use extreme caution before deciding to divulge too much
personal info to anyone. I don't know when my next journal update will be, but I hope you enjoyed reading this one.
* * * * *
June 12, 2004
I think it's time
to give another update about my life. Matt and I had a wonderful romantic relationship for the last 3 years, and we had even
become engaged. I've always been a romantic at heart, but I never believed a man could love me as much as Matt did in spite
of my disabilities. I also truly loved him. However, I always had fears about how we would managed everything if we did get
married since we both have CP, so those fears finally became too stressful for me to handle. I recently told Matt that I thought
it was best if we were just friends. It has been a difficult time for both of us, but I believe this was the best decision
for Matt and me. I'll always treasure the many great memories that we've shared, and I'm glad that we can still be friends.
I sincerely wish the best for Matt.
I'm still writing occasionally, but I've
always wanted to learn more about computers and graphic design. So, I'm considering taking online computer classes. I think
trying to learn more about something that I enjoy will keep my mind occupied and give me a new goal to strive for during this
time of transition for me. I'll write more when further developments in my life occur. Best wishes until then!