I never could have predicted that getting a beer with my ex-boyfriend would be the most fun I would have during the first week of my senior year. Nor could I have foreseen that such an activity would land me in a cast for nine weeks.
With the sweet promise of senior year and the terrifying threat of graduation weighing heavily on my mind, I got a little nostalgic and felt that after two years and some change, the time was right to reconnect with my freshman year boyfriend. The scenario in my head involved spending no more than 40 minutes catching one another up on our respective college experiences before parting amicably and feeling deeply satisfied by our own maturity.
By the fifth round and second bar, we came to the shocking conclusion that we may actually want to pursue a legitimate friendship. After copping to this and letting our “I’ll-catch-up-with-you-after-this-quick-thing” plans know, we decided to check out the Welcome Week activities for the freshmen. I particularly enjoyed playing the senior card, whining that, “Our class never got a Moon Bounce,” which I guess is the modern equivalent of walking six miles in the snow to school. Cutting a long line of freshmen for the 22-foot zip-line set up outside of Tuttleman didn’t suck either.
We ended the evening by checking out our old favorite spots on Main Campus, many of which I was weirdly comforted to see had been blocked off. Something felt subtly significant about visiting the sites of my early college memories with a person who was featured prominently in them, while noticing that the two of us, as well as the spaces themselves, were familiar and yet noticeably changed.
For our last stop of the night, we visited the grassy patch on top of Anderson Hall to stare at the light-polluted sky. As I hopped up on the stone step separating the grass from the rest of the roof, my right ankle gave out, and my left foot smacked directly into the rock as it came up. I collapsed into the grass and my body had that all-over tingly feeling that accompanies any drunken collision. I said something along the lines of, “That’s going to bruise,” and thought nothing else of it.
Though I was hobbling, I managed to walk back to my friend’s place to sober up, then to my car, and then into my house that night. The next morning, my foot had swollen to the size of a cantaloupe and my mommy insisted on schlepping me to the emergency room. Having never broken anything before, I was absolutely incredulous that this would be the moment the universe decided to incapacitate me.
Three days later, my podiatrist confirmed that I had not only fractured my fifth metatarsal, but possibly another part of my foot as well, and that I would need to be in a non-weight bearing cast for a minimum of three weeks. As if commuting from the suburbs didn’t already have me worried about my social life.
Living at home has been difficult enough for my independent spirit to adjust to and nothing cuts self-determination off at the knees quite like a disability. As a result of the injury, I’ve developed an anxious fear of rain, falling and having to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night. Mundane activities like getting ready for school and cooking dinner now require precise and creative strategizing.
Even so, this is clearly not the worst-case scenario, and the situation has actually come with some unexpected perks, including handicapped parking and a notable increase in kindness from strangers. Philadelphia can be a pretty cranky city, and I have never felt more accommodated than I do now. In addition to smiles and the consistent holding of doors and elevators, people also frequently volunteer their own embarrassing broken bone stories. My favorite anecdote came from the emergency room X-ray technician who, after noting my recent 21st birthday, shared the story of the time she got wasted and shattered her tailbone.
I find great comfort in knowing that this condition is temporary, and that while I’m not power walking like I usually do, I’m still not the slowest one on campus. Seriously, texting girls, keep it moving. Or don’t, because passing you is possibly the most fun I have on crutches.
Victoria Marchiony can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.