The first time I found out my boyfriend had a disability was when he struggled to open a jar of salsa.
To be fair, he wasn’t my boyfriend – yet. He was just some guy who happened to sit next to me at a dinner party and introduced himself with an awkward handshake.
Now, six months later, we were tentatively getting to know each other at a friend’s house over chips and salsa.
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When I saw him pass off the jar to someone else to open, I joked he must be too weak if he could be defeated by the tiny jar.
"I’m disabled," he said. "I have cerebral palsy."
I froze, wondering how the hell I was going to backtrack from that. I expected him to be offended, but instead, he laughed. He was used to it.
After I went home, I Googled cerebral palsy. Ben was the first person I’d ever met with a disability, but he didn’t fit into the stereotypes I’d seen on TV shows and movies. He wasn’t in a wheelchair, for one. And he never acted bitter about his lot in life.
I later found out that Ben’s type of cerebral palsy only affected the right side of his body. You wouldn’t know it by looking at him from a distance. But up close, I could see his right hand was permanently curled into a small fist, and he walked with a slight limp.
When Ben and I were friends, I didn’t think too much about his disability. Sure, I was intrigued at how he navigated his day-to-day life. But I never wondered how it would affect me. That is, until 10 months later when he asked if I’d like to watch a movie together, just us two.
Suddenly, I was forced to question whether I was ready to date someone with a disability.
Could I handle the highs and lows? Would my life be "burdened" because of his physical limitations? Would I have to say no to adventure and spontaneity because he wouldn’t be able to accompany me?