How we began
I'm going to wait until the end of the week to answer most of the questions y'all have been asking but since it's a longer story I'll go ahead and tell the story of how B and I met and got together. I'll try to hit the good stuff and leave out too many details or else you'll be reading until you beg for mercy.
Y'all who already know this story are excused from reading for today.
Back in March, 1996 I was killing time one afternoon by poking around chatrooms on AOL. I'd gone into a Thirtysomething chatroom looking for familiar names and ran across a guy with a German sounding name. I thought that was so cool. There I was in the US and I could chat with a German dude. In Germany! German dude in Germany! Wow! We exchanged hellos and a few other other words and then he said he was leaving for the evening. I still can't say why I did it except it must have been the hand of fate giving me a little push but I sent him an IM and asked him to stick around a bit longer. He did, we chatted and then he said he really had to go but asked me to email him. Later on I found out he didn't expect me to email but that evening I sent him an email introducing myself more fully. He wrote back and we began to meet online on the weekends to chat and we emailed every day. I didn't quite get at first that his English was so shaky but after a few emails I got used to the somewhat weird grammar and spelling (since then he's become fluent but at that time he knew very little English and is self taught).
The weeks passed and we because closer with each email. He then told me he was moving to his summer home for the season but he only had very limited internet access and would only be able to email. Much later - after I'd moved to Germany, actually - I learned that at that time there was no landline phone service at the summer place and in order to be able to email me each day he bought a laptop, a cell phone and a special dial-up modem for the cell phone. He was so afraid of losing me that he spent a small fortune just to send email.
And all this time B was hiding a big secret.
November rolled around and one afternoon while we were chatting online I noticed that he seemed strange and withdrawn. He told me that he had something very important to tell me and didn't know how but he couldn't hide it from me any longer. He was falling in love with me and didn't want to have any secrets from me but had up until then been scared to confess this secret.
Naturally I thought of the usual things. Married. Gay. Married and gay. Ex-con. Oh God, please don't let him be some ex-con pervert!
He'd written me a long email and sent it to me with the plea for me to read it and then to meet him online the next day.
Finding out that B is a quadriplegic wasn't what I was expecting. I suppose I should have been angry that he didn't tell me up front that he was a quadriplegic but as I read his words I understood his hesitation in telling me. In the past he'd meet people online - just people he wanted to chat and be friends with - and when he'd say he was a quad they'd suddenly treat him as though he was a leper. Friendships would abruptly end and B didn't want that to happen with us.
I didn't know what to think at first. Logic would say "Oh you can't fall in love with a quadriplegic!" and my heart would say "Too late. You're already a goner."
We just kept up our relationship and now was my opportunity to find out what his life was like. He had been married when he had his accident at the age of 24 and while he was still in rehab his wife divorced him. B went to live with his parents who devotedly cared for him. By the time I met him B's dad had been dead for 18 months and his mom was doing her best to care for him alone.
More months went by and we were in love but we also knew that meeting in person would really determine if our love was real so we made arrangements for me to fly to Germany in May, 1997 to visit with him and his mom for 12 days. He paid for it all - all I had to do was get a passport and a ride to the airport.
My friend, Susan, so supportive of this crazy romance, was the one to drive me to the airport. We felt fairly certain that I would be just fine but to be on the safe side we made a code to use. My job was to write her regular emails and if all was fine with me I was supposed to write "I'm glad baby Kayla is doing fine.". If I wrote instead "I'm sorry to hear that baby Kayla is so fussy." it meant "These people are insane! Call the embassy! Call my mother! Get me the hell out of here!".
I arrived in Germany tired and anxious and as soon as I came through customs I saw B waiting for me, roses in his lap. And that's the moment I knew I really loved him. All I could think to do was run to him, hug and kiss him and tell him that I was so happy to see him.
I was spoiled during my stay in Germany. I couldn't talk to anyone except for B and I soon found out that him writing in English and speaking English wasn't the same thing. His speaking skills left something to be desired but we managed. And right away I was plunged into life with a quadriplegic. I saw what had to be done to care for him and helped out where I could. Instead of being repulsed or put off it all seemed pretty normal. Maybe that was my biggest confirmation that I truly loved B - when I could see the less than glamorous stuff and not be freaked out.
The day I left to return to the US was awful. B was absolutely heartbroken and I didn't know how to console him. But during that trip I'd made up my mind that I wanted to be with him always and that by Christmas I was going to be back in Germany for good. I promised B with the most solemn promise I could make that I really would be back. How could I not come back and stay? I'd found someone who I was crazy about and who was crazy about me. Someone who wasn't afraid to do everything he could do to make me happy and to show me his devotion. This was the guy who would sit up for four and five hours straight just to write me one email in English. He has trouble sitting upright for so many hours and he'd sweat through two or three t-shirts and his one good arm would shake from the effort of tapping out each key with a pencil stub but by God, he was going to send me an email every day if it killed him. How could I not return to a guy like that?
So I did it. In November, 1997 I moved to Germany. And I have never looked back.