A month after breaking up with my boyfriend, I still lived in the two bedroom floor-through with a yard in Hell’s Kitchen which neither of us wanted to part with. But while my ex thought I was searching the web for rental opportunities, I was really on Nerve.com advertising to the world that I was now a woman in search of a woman.
I had never once tried online dating. And save for a kiss on a dare in college, I had never before had a lesbian experience. I had gone to an all girls’ high school and, in the absence of testosterone, sometimes wondered throughout my teens if I might be gay. (I mean, there were definitely the montage I cut together of Angelina Jolie and the Heidi Klum calendar on my wall, but alas I had never acted on my curiosity.)
But now I was post-breakup, frustrated by my living situation and overwhelmed by the idea of starting out alone again. If ever there were a time to try “going gay,” this was it. I did not take into account the feelings of whatever actual lesbian might be disappointed when I turned about to be straight (a mistake which came back to bite me in the ass in Online Dating Story #2). So I posted on Nerve, I chatted with chicks, and I started to consider meeting a couple of girls.
But there was one. She was wonderful: Simply lovely, smart, everything I wanted to be around. We chatted online every day for weeks, but she always had a weird excuse to not meet; I assumed she was just shy. Then one day, I asked if I could finally see a photo of more than her face. She said OK and disappeared for an hour. Then I got an email….
There was the photo: A high angle shot of a beautiful blond girl on a bed in lacy white lingerie; it was all very American Beauty, only one thing was different. Or should I say… four things were different. I could not believe that - or understand how - I had been communicating with a girl with no arms and no legs.
After I caught my breath, we chatted again. I said that I had a hard time believing the photo was of her because she was so pretty (she seemed to appreciate the lie), so after a while she sent me another pic of her holding that day’s New York Times. She said that she had a dictation setup that would write her messages for her (which explained the strange punctuation and frequent misuse of homophones) and a 24/7 assistant who took the photos. I was reeling. I felt like a horrible person for being suddenly unattracted, but also like I had been strung along for way too long without a pretty damn vital piece of information.
We talked a few times more after that, and it was truly sad. She said she had tried every different method of explaining her condition, but nothing worked. I did not know what to say; I would never exclude someone for a handicap, or even a missing limb. But four missing limbs with no prosthetics was a lot to wrap my mind around. I never asked her if her condition had been since birth or from an accident; it really didn’t matter at all. What mattered was that there was this beautiful, sweet, deep, amazing woman out there with little to no chance of ever finding the one thing she wanted most in the world. Heartbreaking.