Dating as a Disabled Person

  • By Springible Contributor
  • Reading Time About 3 minutes
  • PostedMarch 4, 2019
  • Category

I’ve always been a romantic – in love with awesome vistas, a good meal, a hearty laugh or those that laugh heartily. When I moved to New York it was primarily to gorge on all the visuals I’d seen it produce – the black and white, misty hustle and bustle. It hasn’t let me down. I always fall in love with a place first – NYC, Barcelona, Athens, Durham, my childhood front lawn – and then fall in love with the body in that space. I think about the city being my matchmaker, alerting me to the beatific colors of one’s black hair, almond eyes, or bright yellow shirt. Yes, the city has to be the driver; has to seat you in a crowded bar with you and your buddy only to squeeze the patrons in so closely together that you happen to notice that friend of a friend and her friend of a friend next to you: and an amazing conversation ensues.

Though, I think about an expression I use: “it’s good like an old iron skillet” and how it pertains to how and where I love. The place must be rich – seasoned and bursting with memories like an old iron skillet. It must have foundation to the degree should a stranger enter they are immediately kindred. And whereas a whole city can possess this, there are particular places that blaze highly. The Metropolitan Museum of Art comes to mind: I’ve sauntered there, I’ve worked there, I’ve partied there; if I go there on a first date I’m home and so is she. It has the framework to house love. Most of my thinking goes this way. But, so does yours – you take a first date to a sure thing, eventually to meander. I actually believe it’s due to my life as a dancer that I can’t get on board unless we’re physically connected. Nothing extreme, just physically present.

Juxtapose that with the incessant draw to online dating and apps, which inevitably lead to physical presence (unless you’re only interested in being online). Undeniably, apps and their anonymity provide a dual fear of mine: to be less present and to be too present as a disabled person. At The Met you can notice my limp right away. If we’re at the Met, you’ve seen and liked my limp already. On an app there is only the chance to disclose everything or wait for the surprised look. I think that’s why I’m pushed by place because if I’m in the environment I want to be or thrive in, the person I want to be and thrive with will also be there. Commonality, friend, is the crux of these apps, but overpowered by the power of choice. Just like being dragged to physical therapy 3 times a week as a kid I’m in awe (and sometimes despise) how something – city, museum, coffee shop – can condense your choices and crystallize your response. In the end, I feel most inclined to love when I surrender to its presence; so I’m always looking for its presence. In a park, in church, or at the theater. A place confirms for me how far anything lovely will go.

– Jerron Herman, Springible Contributor

My Cerebral Palsy Helps Me Dance