My birthday is this weekend and I only want one thing: to see my girlfriend. Shannon and I haven’t seen each other in nearly six years. Since our last visit, we’ve tried numerous times to see each other, but we’ve been too sick to make the 2,000 mile trip.
Lately, my health has improved enough that I’ve seriously considered traveling to see Shannon. But even so, there are countless hurdles that, at the very least, seem insurmountable. I’ve thought about taking a train—booking a room in the sleeping car, but that would mean enlisting the help of my mom (or another caregiver) to help me get on and off two separate trains. Not to mention, boarding the metal train steps with a wheelchair would be as difficult (and painful) as being thrown down, well, a flight of metal train steps.
Another option would be driving across the continent, but the trip from California to Ottawa would take an obscenely long time. At the most, I can handle three hours of riding in a car in one day, which means it would take at least two weeks to get there. That is time that I could be spending with Shannon, if only I could fly to Ottawa.
There is, however, a similar yet exceedingly more expensive option. I’ve considered saving up enough money to charter a plane, which would drastically reduce my exposure to COVID and other contagious illnesses. It would also make the boarding process much easier, saving me a lot of energy and pain. But, given my fixed disability income, saving up enough money to charter a plane would take years.
The problem is I can’t.
After my “Modern Love” essay about our love story was published in The New York Times, a few incredibly thoughtful people reached out and wanted to help me pay for a flight to Ottawa. But a commercial flight poses too many health risks and mobility hurdles. Navigating a busy airport full of people not wearing masks while my immune system is compromised would almost certainly have catastrophic consequences.
Shannon and I often joke about a billionaire lending us a private jet, since that would be the safest and perhaps the only way we could travel such a far distance. It may be a quixotic fantasy, but you never know, it could happen. And it wouldn’t even take a billionaire. All we need is a very generous millionaire. Believe it or not, there are 22 MILLION millionaires in the US, and celebrities like Taylor Swift and Mr. Beast have been known to let people use their planes, or even give them away.
I realize that this may sound a bit frivolous, but imagine not seeing your significant other for almost six years. Imagine how difficult it would be to maintain such a relationship through text messages and FaceTime, through birthday cards and Amazon deliveries, all without touching or kissing or even being in the same country.
If that isn’t enough to warrant the use of a private plane, then let me add one more reason.
In the weeks and months leading up to my last visit with Shannon, I was much sicker than I am now. I couldn’t speak above a whisper and I was completely bedridden. But as we spent time together, I began to feel better and do more. I had more energy and I could sit up longer and even talk a little. Shannon felt better, too. We later attributed this to increased oxytocin, a hormone that increases as you bond with someone. In very unscientific terms, we felt better because we were loving on each other.
Now, six years later, I can’t help but feel that, if only we could be together, our conditions would improve once again. And while my health has already been improving, Shannon’s has not. In fact, she has gotten quite a bit sicker. Recently, she has crashed so severely that she has been unable to speak or sit up in bed. She is essentially as sick as I was when she last saw me. Now I am the healthier one in the relationship, and I so badly want to deliver her a very large dose of oxytocin.
I know it’s a long shot (or even a no shot), but I also know that if I don’t try to make something happen, it likely never will. So, this is me trying to see the love of my life, trying to reunite with her after six excruciatingly long years apart.
And so, if you know one of the 22 million millionaires (or anyone else) who could help Shannon and I reunite, we would be so incredibly grateful if you’d reach out. And if not, that’s okay, too. We will be together virtually, if nothing else.
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