EASTHAM — Most young couples start their journey together in excellent physical health. Making a promise to support each other “in sickness” comes at a time when serious illness feels comfortably distant.
Such a journey for Jordan Ayres, 21, who has lived most of her life in Eastham, can never be this simple. Her radiant smile hides years of pain.
“I am an advocate for the disabled community, as I myself suffer from debilitating conditions,” Ayres says. She chronicles her struggle with endometriosis and related conditions on her blog, titled Endo, but Alive (endobutalive.com).
“My body is in pain nonstop,” Ayres says. “It ebbs and flows, but never goes away.” She often needs assistance to walk. There is currently no cure for her, only continued procedures, therapies, and other management tools. “It’s a long road, but I feel confident that despite the pain and struggles, it will continue to be a life worth living.”
A major source of joy for Ayres is her relationship with a young Canadian, Andrew Sottile, 24. The couple met online two years ago through a mutual interest in animal rights advocacy and veganism, and they have been devoted to each other ever since.
“About a month after we started talking online, Andrew flew to Boston and we spent a week together,” Ayres says. “The first moment we spent in person sealed the deal for me — I knew that I loved him.”
Sottile’s feelings are likewise serious. “Love is about understanding and acceptance, about working with each other,” he says. “We are both very open with each other and feel comfortable expressing anything to one another.”
Ayres appreciates the ways Sottile supports her that are beyond the norm for able-bodied couples. “One of the greatest things he has done for me is learn in depth about my illnesses and become an advocate for me and others like me,” she says.
Sottile admires Ayres’s ability to be outspoken about difficult topics, which others might prefer to keep private. “She has a unique perspective on life,” he says. “She is also very open-minded and accepting of my own ideas, such as off-the-grid, self-sustained living.”
Since she is American and he’s Canadian, the couple’s relationship has remained long-distance, although they hope to find a way to live together full-time soon. Prior to the Covid-19 crisis, they would spend two weeks together every couple of months.
“We talk over video or are texting pretty much all day, every day, when we aren’t together,” Ayres says. “When we aren’t together physically, he’s there for me emotionally.”
In spite of their youth and the challenges they face, Ayres and Sottile may well have already figured out the secret to happiness as a couple.
“Andrew and I function as a team,” Ayres says. “Life with him feels both stable and exciting, and I couldn’t be more thankful.”