If someone had asked me nearly four months ago if I could see myself in a romantic relationship any time soon, I would’ve laughed . I probably would’ve claimed something about “why would I need a boyfriend when I have a subscription to Netflix ” and changed the topic. Then I met Rich, and everything kind of changed. I’m not saying that a guy ‘completed’ me but it was nice to finally connect with someone on an intellectual level.

Ten months ago, seven months before I met my now boyfriend; I moved into a group home situation for people with disabilities. In the case of this house  it’s mainly intended for the medically frail and the aging, the only of its kind within the agency it’s overseen by. This unique living situation often raises questions as to why I, a  twenty-one year old who despite a diagnoses of Cerebral Palsy is relatively healthy lives in a home for the medically frail. The short answer being it’s the only group home  for people with disabilities in the area that had an open bed AND was equipped to deal with someone in a wheelchair.

Despite the vast majority of my housemates being nonverbal I’ve found my place here and am currently the happiest I’ve been since probably childhood. But things got even better in early October of 2016; based on a suggestion I’d made on a whim the management of my house agreed to take myself, a few of my higher functioning housemates on a trip to Salem, MA along with a few other individuals from an all male house within the same agency. That’s where and when I met Rich for the first time.

It wasn’t love at first sight for me at all. Yes I thought he seemed like a nice guy (I mostly just thought his tattoos were cool) but Rich wasn’t what I had envisioned the ideal boyfriend to be. Since I’m disabled but was raised around ‘average’ people having two perfectly able brothers and gone to mainstream school; never once had it ever occurred to me to really befriend let alone date someone with any kind of disability. As I just don’t see myself as largely disabled even though I know I am; briefly in high school I had gone out with a guy with a mild intellectual impairment and was quickly bored thus ending the one relationship I’d been involved in prior to Rich.

Even now I don’t view him or as as extremely disabled he has a TBI from being hit by a car as a toddler and the only real difference from Rich to a “normal” guy is that there’s some psychological stuff which he’s medicated for and some minor memory issues which are barely noticeable. We bonded on the bus ride to Salem that day, he bought me snacks and we swapped numbers I don’t think that there’s been a day since that day in October that we haven’t spoken. Although we don’t physically see each other in person but maybe once a month due to his work schedule and living a half hour away from each other, we make it work. Never in a million years would I have ever thought that dating a guy with the memory of Dory from “Finding Nemo” would be this great but he’s the legs and I’m the brain it works really well. I really should’ve taken a page from my own book and realized that disability doesn’t define a person.Moral of the story being happiness happens unexpectedly.