The day after my 32nd birthday, FRG moved into my apartment officially. Though we had only been dating for a little over 6 months, we agreed that the timing was right. She had been spending almost all of her time sleeping at my place, and the place that she was renting was not at all suited to my electric wheelchair, so much so that I had never been inside.
A casual reader of this blog might assume that this important step may be arrived at too quickly. However, as with all facets of my life there are always external forces at play. Prior to sharing our apartment, my time with FRG was severely compromised, as she lived on the other side of town, meaning that all of her permanent items were nearly an hour away. Not to mention the fact that she was paying (cheap) rent on a room she never used.
We both entered this relationship knowing that we wanted it to last years, not months. We think in the long term.
Yet an important question had to be tackled.
How can an able bodied partner successfully move into a complex specifically designed for people with disabilities, who are expected to live by themselves?
This is why my circumstances are exceptional. Youngcare, who built my accommodation, and Wesley Mission Brisbane (WMB), who provide the staffing to help with my physical support, both agree on the same principle. I am a young person living a young life. Part of a 'typical' young life is finding a long term partner, and moving in with them. This is exactly what we have done.
Just because I am disabled, it does not mean I am incapable of finding love, or that I must find love with another person who has a disability, because we happen to share similar disadvantages.
WMB could have said no. This would have been outrageous to me if they did, but many other organisations would have. In fact, a few months ago the Manager of the Apartments and the Clinical Care Nurse were the people who first suggested that this living situation would be possible. FRG and I had not contemplated moving in together at that stage.
I talked with management again about a week before FRG moved in to see if the option was still viable. They said it was, then we convened a meeting to organise a few particulars. This meeting was not about restricting my options, but rather ensuring my safety and our privacy.
WMB wanted to ensure that if FRG was to do the majority of my physical care (She always wants to, despite my long term reservations) that her, I, and the organisation were legally covered. They also asked us if they could put a lock on our bedroom door, which was to be paid for by WMB. Although I could tell that WMB were somewhat uncertain about these processes, they did them anyway to their great credit. Lesser organisations would have framed these types of discussions as too difficult or inappropriate.
FRG and I are blazing a trail, even though we shouldn't be. WMB haven't confronted this type of thing before. A walkie has never moved in with a cripple in their supported accommodation. It is not their fault. This simply has never occurred before. I'm lucky that the management of my apartment building are so forward thinking. Others are not. Society in general believes that people with disabilities are unable, incapable or undeserving of love. It is not the first barrier we have had to overcome, and it will certainly not be the last.