I must have stared at the box for at least ten minutes with a mixture of anxiety, anticipation, excitement, and maybe a tiny drop of fear. Then I felt silly. After all, I’m the one who bought this thing, and I bought two identical boxes for my sons. How hard could it be?

The Oculus Quest 2 virtual reality system

These are the thoughts of a 46-year-old single mother in a wheelchair who is separated from her children by thousands of miles, and now finds herself staring at an unopened virtual reality headset package.

This all started, like many of my recent life adventures, on the Clubhouse…


I remember when I registered to vote. It was during my senior year of high school, and I was so excited. The year was 1992, and George H. W. Bush was the president. I grew up as the daughter of Cuban immigrants who left their homeland shortly after the Revolution, then made South Florida their home in the 1960s. They became just one thread of the tightly knit anti-communist tapestry in conservative Republican Miami. Exercising the right to vote was not optional in our household.

I was born in 1974, and while I don’t remember anything about Jimmy Carter, I…


Yes, I can still have sex. I only say that because it seems to be the most pressing question on the minds of men considering me (or any other woman in a wheelchair) as a potential romantic partner. With regular women, men can just skip straight to figuring out how to simply get to the sex part. With me, it’s like I need to give a demonstration with an anatomically correct Barbie doll before we can move past appetizers.

But first I actually need to get to the date. These days, it seems like I spend more time abroad than…


Back in 1934, the local press asked the football coach at Ohio State University what his team’s chances were of beating rival Michigan. Francis Schmidt replied, “Those fellows put their pants on one leg at a time, the same as everyone else.” This statement alone makes it obvious that Schmidt was not a wheelchair user. I hate pants. I mean, I effing hate pants. It can take me up to 10 minutes just to put on a pair of pants, and don’t even get me started on socks and shoes when my feet are having a Stay-Puft marshmallow man day.


It was a random day with my two sons, and we were just relaxing in the living room while watching TV. My then-10 year-old asked me to get him some water. I looked at him, sprawled lazily on the floor, and said, “Hey, you’ve got two perfectly good legs. You know where the refrigerator is, where the cups are, and how the water dispenser works.” Cue the groaning and whining as he dragged his feet towards the kitchen. I said to him, “You know, you’re the one who gets to walk all the time.” He looked back at me with…


So, what do you do?

This is one of the most commonly asked questions in American society. You can hear it spoken during conversations between strangers at parties, networking events, bars, and long waits. Second to our clothing choices, it’s probably the easiest way for us to categorize someone new. Doctor or lawyer? Probably makes good money, drives a BMW, educated, married with kids. Musician or artist? Probably broke, recreational drug user, rides the bus, showers optional.

The ubiquitous question of our employment status is either the cause or result of how we tend to wrap our identities around our…


Like many other people these days, I suspect, I’ve been spending way too much time on Facebook. That means I’ve seen way too many people saying way too many things about the novel coronavirus, or COVID-19, that in many cases they probably shouldn’t.

You see, I’m a professional travel writer. It’s my job to spend as much time as possible traveling around the world and writing about my experiences. However, the kicker in this present day is that I’m a wheelchair user with multiple sclerosis — an autoimmune disease.

Because I have MS and I’m not exactly sure how my…


About a year ago, a video by CBS News started making the rounds on Facebook. The clip was of a young man in a wheelchair who was at his graduation ceremony at my alma mater, Florida International University. He was at the edge of the stage fitted with an exoskeleton, two walking sticks, and an assistant. When his name was called to receive his diploma, two people helped him stand up out of his wheelchair, and slowly and haltingly he took his steps and made his way across the stage to receive his diploma. The crowd went crazy and the…


I was one of the lucky 62,417 people who got to watch the Super Bowl in person. I’m a full-time wheelchair user, and managed to score two tickets at face value through an ADA ticket lottery. While I was excited enough about the game as a huge football fan, as a Latina born to Cuban immigrants, I was even more excited about the halftime show with Shakira and Jennifer Lopez.

This year’s Super Bowl was in Miami, where I essentially grew up and went to college. There are few things I truly miss about the days when I could still…


I read an article last year that spoke about how rising college tuition rates can be attributed to bloated university bureaucracies, and how quickly those have been expanding in recent years. The author pointed to university executive positions related to diversity and inclusion as examples, and while I’m on the fence about her argument over whether or not these positions are needed, it got me thinking about a larger issue.

For years I’ve seen this push for diversity and inclusion in business, society, and education, butI’m starting to wonder if the users of these words know what they actually mean…

Sylvia Longmire

Sylvia Longmire is an award-winning accessible travel writer, a service-disabled Air Force veteran, and the former Ms. Wheelchair USA 2016.

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