Perhaps he sensed my hesitation. "I didn't think too much about it," he said then, "but it upset me if I thought about it."
He continued his story, letting me know that everything had changed. It changed because of his blog. Shane practically lives in his blog. For people with mobility impairments, the computer can be like a passport to the world. And you can visit incognito—no one need know about your disability, or at least about the extent of it, about what you look like and how you talk and how you breathe and how you eat, all of which can be labored for someone like me. And someone like Shane.
Of course, Shane holds nothing back from his blog. That's part of its magic. He's able to shape the way his disability and his life experiences are presented, and he does so with self-aware, unsentimental, unabashed gusto.
"Two or three years ago I got an email from this girl who said, Hey, I read your blog and I love it, blah blah blah," he explained to me. "I kind of rolled my eyes like I do whenever I get one of those emails. I just thought about moving on. But she mentioned that she was local—fairly local … About an hour or hour-and-a-half away. She said that she would really love to meet me and hang out."
Shane's expectations were muted, tempered by experience. "There was no suggestion of anything [more] at that point," he continued. "So honestly, just for the hell of it, I sent her my number and said, Hey, let's text. That would be fun … I didn't even think about it when I did it. I just did it and I moved on …"
What developed was a virtual friendship, conducted entirely online and by phone. "We sent texts back and forth," he said, " and a few days later we start talking about relationships, and I explained to her my whole difficulty with having a girlfriend because I rely on other people so much, you know, and that's kind of a turnoff for most young people. At least [that's] the way I've experienced it. And she came back and was very forward about it. She just said, Honestly, all of that means nothing to me. I would love to get to know you on a deeper level. So I went with it. And one thing led to another and she came over and we hung out."
The friendship stayed platonic over several more visits—she always visiting him, at his parents' house, because he lacked independent mobility. His family did, however, allow him a high degree of privacy. It wasn't unusual for Shane to spend hours in his bedroom on his own with his computer, so why not leave him alone in his room with a visiting friend?Even when talk with that friend turned to kissing and beyond.