Back To The Place Where Love Began

Full circle: re-entering a relationship with the same man, after being separated for 7 years due to the wishes of others. A story of love.

It was a rainy afternoon in the middle of May, as the plane that whisked me back to Providence touches down. I walk the long corridor of gates, overpriced fast food joints and gift shops, thinking about the last time I found myself here. Let’s just say, things didn’t end in good terms.

Let’s backtrack seven years ago, when I hit a crossroads in my life where I was forced to make others happy by shacking it up with a puppeteer I met while on internship as a way to shut down the heartache of rejection and secrecy that played out three years prior, even though I was perfectly fine being in a relationship with a man people looked down at, all because of his cerebral palsy.

I make my way to baggage claim, hoping to spot this said man whom I forcefully lost contact with, and then I spot him while going down the escalator that was traveling a snail’s pace.

Suddenly my heart feels full, a feeling lost in years of forcing myself to conform to the ideal life my family and friends wanted me to have. You know, marry an able bodied man who can provide for you, and make tons of babies. Heaven forbid I don’t make grandkids (Luckily that never happened to everyone’s dismay.)

I wave and scream “Hey Billy! Hi Sweetheart!”as I make my descend, finally saying to myself “Screw it!” and make a dive for it 5 steps away from the ground. My bags and a Mickey Mouse Pillow Pet I bought him from my job at Disney go flying, and I fling myself into his strong arms, tears filling my eyes, because for the first time in ages, this was a hug hello. A hug that said “I’m for real this time.”

With his care staff in toe, we make our way back to his apartment, a place I haven’t set foot in since I was forced to end it years ago, for this normal guy was in the process of being engaged with me.

I walk into his apartment and am overcome with emotions, I drop my Vera Bradley duffle into the small curtained area of the studio apartment that is his bedroom, looking at the bed where I held him in consolment as I sung him our song “I Swear” after I broke the news to him, feeling at that point in my life as if I hurt the only person I loved for my own personal gain. To this day, that song that once meant love never felt the same.

I shake those feelings away as I see Billy lift himself onto his couch and turn on Netflix to Fuller House, a promise he made since my broke ass doesn’t have Netflix and I wanted to spend my first night binge watching some shows and cuddling, something that we always did together.

The night was full of stories from my seven years of soul searching, which involved me moving in with “Mr. Perfect” and not finding true happiness. Three different states, five different apartments, me working my ass off while Mr. Perfect could barely keep a job for a month. Where was the happy in that? Is this what normal is supposed to be? Because this isn’t what I had in mind.

Society made me and Billy break up, although both of us are considered disabled, I am more of the higher functioning level then he is. Society saw him as nothing but the dreaded “R” word, never mind the fact that despite his learning differences and physical capabilities or lack there of, he was very much in fact in control of his life, legally in guardianship, as well as mentally in terms of what he wants out of life. Billy knew on that dreaded night that this was never about him, but the pressure people in both his life and mine was just too much, especially for me at a vulnerable part of my life, a college graduate trying to find independence and a better life for myself.

I crawled into bed with Billy that first night back, just in awe that I made it back here. A feat I never thought I would accomplish. If it weren’t for me gaining a job in the “Place where dreams come true” and working myself to the point where I made it full time with paid vacation, this would all just be a dream. But indeed, it was reality. I found myself at home, in his arms. No negativity from anyone, not even his caregivers who popped in occasionally during the day. Unlike how it was when I left.

I forgot how overprotective he was of me, for every time I rolled over or mumbled in my sleep (an awkward trait of mine according to Mr Perfect and others who shared a room with me) Billy would always ask if I was OK and gently kiss me on the forehead. Endearing, but for somebody who needed sleep after a long day, found a tad annoying. And yet, I enjoyed every moment of it.

This nightly ritual would turn into a 3am snuggle, as Billy would sometimes listen to music to lull him to sleep. His music of choice, the Beatles. And of course the first song played was Blackbird.

Blackbird to me became my anthem when one day, me and Billy and a close friend found ourselves wandering the mall for a working elevator once during my college years. We wanted to go to the movies, but the one working elevator was out of order. As Billy was getting upset, my friend let him borrow her iPod while we figured things out. Of course, he wanted to listen to the Beatles. We eventually found ourselves in the back parts of the mall, taking an unauthorized tour in search of a service elevator, his beautiful yet off key voice echoing to “Hey Jude” and “Hello Goodbye” as we found a route that led us to a heliport on the roof of the mall. We sat up there in awe looking at the Providence skyline under a starlit sky, when at that point, Billy in his little karaoke session belts out the lyrics.

“Blackbird singing in the dead of night…..spread those broken wings and learn to fly…..all your life….You were only waiting for this moment to arrive.”

That memory as I laid in bed brought me to tears, after dealing with the drama of Mr. Perfect and the many steps it took for me to be back in Billy’s arms again. Blackbird meant hope, healing, and overall joy, for I overcame adversity set by society. I was finally with the man I love.

That week I spent back in Providence brought me the happiness I lost so many years ago. I learned a lot in that small week long journey than I ever did in my lifetime. Never take those you love for granted, follow your heart, and never lose sight of the people that matter most, even though society says you should.

For once in my life, I feel strong, inspired, and truly loved. With Billy by my side, even if we are miles apart, anything is possible.

After 7 years of uncertainty, it’s safe to say my soul is healed, my journey is set on a new path of making my life one that runs on my terms and nobody else’s.

I found the courage to spread those wings and learn to fly. My moment has arrived. And I can’t be any more thankful.



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Mandy Ree is currently a vacation planner and a former paraprofessional, defying the odds as a legally blind woman with PTSD. She is a self advocate who blogs about her journey in finding herself and breaking the barriers set forth by society. Follow her journey on as she "unwraps" the mystery that is her on Legally Blind Bagged. Link is shared below.

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