So this post is gonna be just a little bit different from my typical posts. Because I have decided to bite the bullet and do something new, today I wanna share with y’all my personal experience in the world of dating.
So without further ado, let’s begin.
This is a story that I wish I could begin with the phrase “Once upon a time…” but I really cannot. Because you see, to truly understand how my boyfriend and I first met, you gotta go back to a rather disastrous time in my life. And that was the start of my 6 grade year at the local, typical level middle school in my area at the time.
See, throughout my upbringing, I was always apart of the mainstream school system. Only apart of special education programs for mobility issues related to having CP, and relatively minor learning disabilities. But for the most part I had a pretty typical schooling experience. That was that, I had attended the same school from 1st through 5th grade. And had the same 1 on 1 instructional aid all that time. So I didn’t expect anything to change with my next school year. Except that, I would be moving schools with the rest of the students that were my age. We would all be going from our small elementary school to a much bigger middle school located at the other end of town.
Having had my transitional IEP meeting earlier in my last week of 5th grade, as I said, I didn’t expect anything to unnecessarily change within the next coming year. In fact, I was thrilled to finally be moving on. To be honest, I was probably my parents only kid who was excited when summer ended and school started that August.
Boy, was I in for a rough awakening… As one week before school started, all the incoming 6th grade students, their families and any school district provided support staff, all attended a mandatory open house orientation and registration night at the school. As the night came to a close, my aid, whom we knew personally, had worked with for all the years beforehand, and I loved; she sat us all down and dropped a bombshell.
She said, “I plan to be here with you, Sammie. But it will all depend upon what my doctor says in 6 weeks when I see him.” “Ok…but at least for the time being you will be with Sam… right?” I heard my mom ask. “For right now, I will, yes. ” Completely overwhelmed by what I’d just heard, and absolutely confused, I started bawling hysterically. Suddenly my perfect, happy picture of my years to come, they lay shattered on the pavement. “First you make me take the bus, and now Angel is leaving me!” I shouted, making heads turn to look from every direction. “Oh sweetheart… I’m sorry. But unfortunately I may have to… For now though I’m not going anywhere.” And so that night ended on a not so pretty note.
And then school started that next week.
Completely oblivious with excitement once again, I was up 5 minutes before my 4 AM alarm went off. My bus was set for a 6:02 AM pick up. Which at the time that didn’t bother me. Because I was on the same bus as my childhood best friend, Maria. Who also happened to attend the same school at the time. And we also shared 2 SE classes.
So, for the first few weeks everything went as good as could be expected. With the added bonus that my auntie was actually the health aid at the a joining school, with which my middle school at the time was sharing an office. And so, being a slight an auntie’s girl, I was so much more comfortable and confident knowing that she was around.Things were going good for a while.
And then everything went haywire when after the first 6 weeks ended. Sure enough, my aid had been told to quit her job on account of her health at the time. I was devastated by this rather unexpected turn of events.
Now, you might be thinking, “but Sam, you had a heads up.“ And you would be correct. We’d had a heads up about the doctors visit and the possibility of her being given a certain time limit on to how much longer she could have been working with me.
But, when on an ordinary Friday, she came back in and said she needed to resign immediately, by doctor’s orders; it was all the sudden and shocking, overwhelming and devastating, all in one fail whack to the system. It was especially made much more difficult when, upon my arrival to school the next week on Monday, I was surprised once again with the discovery all of a sudden for a while I didn’t have an aid in school at all. For the first time ever, I would have to go it alone and go about my school days, (for the whole week), independently. I felt as though I had been thrown to the wolves, disguarded and forgotten about.
It would be found out later that my school district was as unprepared for me to enter middle school, as they were seemingly just as unprepared for my aid to make a rather abrupt exit from the position. And as you can imagine, this did not sit very well with my family. As because of my needs, I was entitled to a one to one instructional aid. Also, because of my needs, I required a one to one instructional aid in order to get through the school day.
So, to solve the problem, the district put me with an amazing long-term substitute instructional aid. Her name was Teal, at the time she was 24. And she truly was amazing and became one of my very best friends, during our time together. Her sister, Moriah, attended the school as well. So it seemed like a perfect fit and a win-win on all fronts. However, I found out very quickly that she too would have to forfeit the position…and soon. Because, upon filling the position, Teal was 4 months pregnant with a little boy, she later named Isaiah.
Shortly after beginning to work with Teal, I needed to move schools, from the traditional middle school in my town, to a much smaller elementary school way out on the outskirts of town. This school is mainstreamed kindergarten – 8th grade. And they also had a deaf and hard of hearing, (DHH) program within the school. The DHH program runs pre-K through 8th grade. And they also have a very caring and dedicated special education department.
So, that’s what made this school a sure thing for my family. But the “downside” of this great move was that, everything once again, did a 360 turn around… I was looking at changes in my entire school day and overall education plan. This included, new school, student body, teachers and faculty, a whole new IEP team (except my amazing A.P.E teacher, as he is and was the only A.P.E teacher for that school district. Even in present day.), even my bus route would have to change. With that I was not at all very pleased. And I struggled to actually accept it. Until much later when I began making friends.
But, I was extremely grateful for the one thing that didn’t immediately change again… my one on one I.A. Teal would continue to work with me until she could no longer.
Looking back now I’m more grateful than ever for my hours long 6:02 AM – 9AM Bus rides and late morning school breakfast days. Because, my bus ride was where I first noticed Alan. As I previously said the school I had moved to has a good size DHH program. Nearly all the deaf and hard of hearing in that school district end up in the school I transferred to. And at the time, my entire bus route picked up about half of the school’s DHH students in the program. With the exception of myself and the driver, every single other student was deaf to some extent. I felt at first like once again I’d been thrown to the deep end and told, “swim idiot!” with no heads up, help or instruction. Because you see, other than the alphabet, my own name sign, (given to me at birth, because my parents weren’t sure if I’d be able to speak after 5 weeks of being unable to breathe without a ventilator down my trachea.), and a few basic manners & “needs” signs… I knew absolutely nothing in ASL. Not to mention, I have very little use of my left hand, so I was just sure it was just impossible to communicate with much less to make friends with any of them.
So after I came home bawling to my mom and auntie about feeling so out of place, but explaining my desire to make friends and communicate with the kids on my bus that went to my school, they started sending me with a small note pad and suggested that I ask the kids’ teachers for help in learning conversational ASL. They also eventually purchased educational books for me to read and begin to to teach myself. I guess you can say that I kinda threw myself into learning and soaking up all that I could from that day. And it actually paid off. Because shortly there after, I became the one solely responsible to look after the little ones, until we got to the school every morning. And for an 11 year old girl, in wheelchair sucurment area of a bus, having to look after 5 deaf littles was no easy task; believe me!
Alan Michael is 9 months older than me. This meant he was just a year ahead of me in school. When I transferred to his school, it was the middle of the year. It was around early December and about 3 weeks from Christmas break. I was always the first pick up for our bus route and then the last drop in the evening time. Alan only took the AM bus. He was always the 4th to last picked up and always sat in the same spot. He would sit in the 3rd row from the door. And he always slid over to sit by the window.
Alan was your typical 7th grade boy. Except that, he was always very quiet and somewhat reserved. Unless you knew him really well he never really said anything in any way, shape or form. He hung out with friends playing basketball with them at break times. But overall, kept to himself during the school day.
Although not the type to pick on the other students or make fun of them. I was always getting laughed at and made fun of by Alan and his friends back then. I mean, you name it, they teased me about everything. And it lasted from the time I showed up to the school to the end of his 8th grade year. At the time I thought it was just him being a huge jerk. I found out later that he was just crushing on me super hard.
Anyway he and I rode the bus and were at the same school til the end of my 7th grade his 8th grade year in ‘06. He moved to high school and attended the town’s only high school at that time. I graduated 8th grade just in time to be in the 3rd class of freshman to get into the town’s new high school, completely on the opposite end of town from his high school. So we ended up losing touch with each other for about 12 years after both going separate ways for high school.
That was until December 2015. My parents and I had been attending a different church in the town for about a month and I’d found my way onto the Saturday night worship team. And eventually too found myself in a weekly ministry group called “Friday Night Singles” For me, the group was initially just something to do with my time on a Friday night. I always figured that doing something was better than doing nothing at home while my siblings always had something going on with their Friday night. And hey, at least it was always something positive that got me out of the house more. I never expected anything more than it being something positive to do with a Friday night. But, I guess, God had a much bigger plan…
Because during my 3rd night on the worship team , a guy, not at all hard on the eyes… With an athletic build, and eyes of forest green with a beautiful blue ring just around the iris, he caught my eye immediately. And from the moment I saw him, my mind was totally elsewhere. Completely unaware that the guy that was sitting catty corner from set up was in the same Alan with whom I’d attended middle school, that whole night all I was focused on was the need to know his name.
Little did I know, introductions would happen much sooner than I thought. Coincidentally, that night our set included the one and only song I know by heart in ASL. It is “Lift Your Name On High”. And just out of habit, as we sang it I was signing the whole thing. And low and behold, Alan noticed within seconds. Suddenly with the same thing on his mind, neither of us could get our focus any longer on the service. Both just had one another on the mind and couldn’t wait for service to end. Seriously, I cannot tell you what the service was about. I just wanted it to be over so I could meet this ‘hot deaf guy’ with gorgeous eyes.
Finally, the service ended. And before I got my things collected up, the next thing I know, the guy that I spent all service making eyes at had bee-lined his way straight for right in front of me. By then, my mom had come over to help me collect my stuff and get out to the car.
“Oh hi.” I say aloud followed by the slightest wave of a hand.
“Hey.” he said aloud.
Then started sign to say: “I saw you sign to the song tonight. I don’t know anyone else here who can sign. How much sign do you know?”
At this point I nervously laugh, and and then answer, “Oh, ah… very very little…”
“Oh… so what’s your name?” He asked.
Before I could answer, I hear, “Go ahead, Sam. Tell him your name.” Suddenly aware that my mom was still standing there. And she had been there for the entire conversation.
So I quickly finger spell my name: S-A-M-M-A-N-T-H-A, immediately following this with my name sign.
“Wait, didn’t you go to school at C.G.?” He asked. Completely caught off guard and instantly aware of his name, even though he had not mentioned it during the entire conversation, I quickly answered “Yes.” And with that, I sweetly said I needed to go and take care, before mom and I headed to the car.
So, that friends, in a nutshell is how Alan Michael and I first crossed paths. And also how we reconnected about 13 years later.
Honestly, I could go with the story. But then this post would be never ending and go forever.
At present day, we’ve been together for three years. We’ve had our ups and downs as any average couple does. But for the most part our relationship is pretty typical, and surprisingly very normal. And through it all we have been and continue to be each other’s whole world.