By Ryan O'Connell
Words have a tendency to hurt when they’re right and soothe when they’re wrong. Read this:
“We are getting to that age when we can no longer rely on anyone but ourselves. It’s not college anymore. People are there for you when they want to be and gone when they don’t.”
The person who said this to me did not know that he had just shot me in the chest. He did not know that he cut through me like butter and now here I am, melting fast on a bar stool, my insides dripping carelessly on the floor.
Because he’s right. If there’s anything I’ve learned about being single, it’s that this world wasn’t meant to be experienced alone. We were created for the purposes of fucking, loving, and mating and every day you spend failing to do just that, the universe ignores you a little bit more.
You will feel the most invisible at 2:00 on a Sunday afternoon inside an air-conditioned movie theater. That’s when you disappear more and more until you’ve got nothing left. Just FYI.
Six years ago today, I was hit by a car while walking across the intersection of Sunset and Yorba in San Francisco. Since then, I’ve had six surgeries, one skin graft, a three-week hospital stay, four casts, approximately 6,000 painkillers, and a partridge in a pear tree.
Complications arose from my accident. So many complications. For one, the muscles in my left arm decided to die on me. Doctors talked about “bringing them back” and negotiations were held. Money was waved around aggressively. Still, no dice. My muscles were basically like, “No. We like being dead. Bye.”
They opened me up again and again. Then they had the audacity to tell me that they couldn’t close the wound. I would have to get skin taken from my thigh and grafted onto my forearm in order for that to happen.
“It will hurt,” they said.
No shit. I wasn’t expecting a skin graft to feel like a massage.
Things were bad for a very long time. I dropped out of school to recover from the accident and moved into an apartment in Beverly Hills adjacent (it’s important to mention the "adjacent" part) to a crazy lady who only ate Cool Whip and wore athletic gear. I lay in bed and ate Chipotle four times a week. Sometimes I’d try to masturbate, but the orgasms were usually such weak pussies, it hardly even seemed worth it.
My left hand was basically dead. More words were thrown around, words like “compartment syndrome” and “very rare.” In the meantime, I was expected to go to hand therapy four times a week and get better. That’s all I was supposed to do because that’s all I could do. I couldn’t even put deodorant on. My father had to do that. He had to do everything—including bathe me. The first time he did it, I got embarrassed that he was seeing me naked as a fully formed adult with a fully formed penis, but then I stopped caring. I stopped caring about everything. After all, I’ll probably have to do the same for him one day. Eventually, he’ll get Alzheimer’s or have a stroke, and I’ll be the one trying to avert my eyes from his naked body.
My father did not experience this world alone. He never felt invisible at 2:00 on a Sunday afternoon. He was smart. He found a partner, had kids, and now has people to bathe him until he dies. He doesn’t have to rely only on himself, because he thought ahead.
I, on the other hand, am thinking backward. I am not buying the life insurance.