Like all romantic entanglements, the reasons for their tensions—tensions, which eventually led the invisible rubber band between them to snap—weren't quite clear. Or maybe they were entirely too clear. Telling me about it, Shane struggled for the right words, but his meaning rang with the clarity of breaking glass.
"For a while, she was planning on moving up here to be with me, to be able to help out with all my stuff," he explained. "She wanted to be the one that takes care of me. And for an 18- or 19-year-old to be committing her life like that, it's not, I mean—when she asked me for the breakup I was upset, obviously, but I knew it was the right thing to do. I can't expect her to give up her life for me at this point in her life."
I asked Shane the question he seemed, to me, to have been hinting at: Did she get flak from her family or friends?
"Yes," he replied without skipping a beat. "Okay, that's another thing. Probably like three or four months into the relationship, she started telling me about how her sister and the woman they live with [a close family friend/guardian], how they didn't really agree with her being with me. I've met them, and they're not evil people. But, like, for instance, once the woman said something like, She's not going to be able to take care of you and provide for you, and all that stuff. Her aunt was also kind of against it and didn't really understand what she saw in me, because of the wheelchair. It made [my now ex-girlfriend] so mad. She was livid at them. But I think honestly being around them all the time, like, some of their thoughts kind of slipped into her mind. And she started to see their perspective more than she used to."
There was peer pressure as well. "Her sister … has an able-bodied boyfriend," Shane explained. "At their age they're running around having sex all the time. They drink, they go out. I think she sees that and even though she doesn't want to be that shallow, she also kind of wants to be a young person. And I want to give her that."