We: Such a Beautiful Word
By Valois J. Vera

We have all these clichés–love conquers all, love is a many-splendored thing–but have you ever heard that love is accessible? You know, universally designed or ADA-compliant? In a crip’s perfect world, love would be easy to find, easy to maneuver in and, of course, nondiscriminating.

My search for love, true love, has met with the usual barriers–overcrowded nightclubs, spilled drinks, bruised shins and a chorus of “Excuse me, I didn’t see you down there” apologies. Singles bars are designed for the typical able-bodied male who can drive the female of his choice home or to the nearest motel. My Invacare could barely take me back to my small bedroom at my mom’s house. Even my efforts at the local church only produced hands of prayer to heal me of my “affliction.” Forget the affliction, I thought, pray I find love. Now that would be a miracle.

Would I ever find that special someone? Who, how, where, when? Sure, every guy, let alone a guy with a disability, goes through periods of self-doubt and uncertainty. Yet my period of uncertainty was starting to look like a time capsule of futility: “Here lie the fruitless attempts of Val Vera. Unlucky in love but a great guy.” What a way to go.

I thought my move to San Diego would mark a turning point. In spite of my pathetic experience, I was convinced that love was just a palm tree away. But finding love on the West Coast was just as difficult as ever. California was loaded with the all-too-familiar clubs and bars, plus it had the image factor in spades: hard bodies, fast cars, loose money. It was like watching a never-ending episode of “90210” without the luxury of a remote control.

I didn’t possess the hard body or the fast car, but I had a lot of positive qualities. I just had to find a way to display them. That’s when I discovered a telephone dating service. I thought, what better way to meet someone without the frustrations of dating in a