My Last Summer Of No Responsibilities

I was high the entire summer. It was the official summer of being stoned. Los Angeles looked better with a hazy tint over it and besides, who wants to see things for what they really are at the age of 21? Or ever, for that matter?

It was the summer before my senior year of college, the last summer that wouldn’t matter, the last summer that wouldn’t ever stick. The doctor had to open me up for the last time and see what had survived and what ultimately perished, so I was resigned to being one-handed again. They put me in a cast that I had to wear for three months and in many ways it felt like I was right back where I started on May 9, 2007. Right back to the day of getting hit by a car and having to drop out of school and not being able to open water bottles or put on the splint that I had to wear every single night before bedtime or jack off properly or open the pill bottles for the pain medication that I actually still needed.

The surgery was done and when I woke up, I saw that my doctor — a surly British dude with no bedside manner — had gotten rid of the gnarly skin graft on my arm and replaced it with a beautiful scar.

BEFORE

AFTER

To the casual observer, this scar seems ugly and terrifying. They look at it and say reassuringly, “You know what? It’s not that bad. I like it!” And I want to respond, “I know it’s not bad. I love it. It’s the most stunning thing on my body.” People don’t always know what you’ve been through and where you’re going. They don’t know how someone could ever cherish a long scar on their arm, let alone consider it beautiful. They just have to trust me when I tell them that I know what ugly looks like. And it’s not this. I cried when I saw the scar but not for the reasons you would expect.

I lived on Ogden and Fountain in a crappy overpriced apartment. It came with furniture that was breaking and a complimentary Toblerone chocolate bar. I don’t even like Tobblerone so the “gift” felt extra insulting. Gouge the rent and give me a damn chocolate bar? Okay, where do I sign?

I lived alone in a two bedroom, which made no sense considering I would need day-to-day assistance after the surgery, but maybe I was just being stubborn or hoping for a lot of slumber parties with my friends. Whatever the reason, I realized pretty quickly I couldn’t do it on my own so I had my best friend in Los Angeles move in with me. This proved to be a mistake — not because my best friend wasn’t a good caretaker but because that summer ended up being too stoned and too bizarre to drag someone else into it.

I couldn’t do anything. I couldn’t even type on the computer because my hand was in a cast. As a result, I just took a lot of photos on Photo Booth of me stoned on painkillers and waving my cast in the air.

Here are some of the things I remember from that summer: Driving through Laurel Canyon with my friend Alex and having a stupid Perks Of Being A Wallflower “I feel infinite” moment, going to the New Beverly Cinema to watch old movies with my roommate and knowing that I would remember this night forever for no reason, having two of my friends over to play cards and drink whiskey till 5 in the morning, cutting my good hand on accident while walking in Beverly Hills and having my roommate put ointment on it every day because my other hand was obviously busted, always feeling helpless but also free which felt like a contradictory combination, sitting in the back of a convertible with my grandmother and realizing how ethereal she actually was, going to a house party in a seedy part of Hollywood and taking four Vicodin in the bathroom because I wanted to mess up that night, a fight in the bathroom of the Laemmle Theatre on Sunset and the subsequent end of it all. I guess ultimately, when I remember that summer, I think of the endings. The ending of an important friendship, the end of drugs being fun, the end of the surgeries, the end of no consequences. I spent three years of my life in recovery from a horrible accident and when there was finally nothing left to recover from, I wasn’t sure of where I should go.

I’m embarrassed to tell you that I would do it all over again if I could. I’m not supposed to want this haziness and those unrequited feelings and the cast and the pills and the boredom and the laziness and the physical pain and the overpriced apartment with broken furniture. But sometimes, in weak moments, I do. It’s exactly what I want. Thought Catalog Logo Mark

Ryan O'Connell

I'm a brat.

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