The day I arrived it was hot, not snowing like I had thought it would be, or should I say, like I thought I had been promised. It was scorching.  My feet were sore and drenched. I wore socks, always, even in these temperatures. Well, if I was wearing sneakers or boots which I often was as they are easier to walk in, I always wore socks. People who don’t wear socks with their sneakers are disgusting. I wore boots that day with a short blue floral sundress. They were old, both the dress and the boots. The dress was a hand-me-down gift from someone, possibly seven years ago and the boots a present to myself on a rainy day when I needed to walk puddles. They were from the thrift store: brown and big and clunky.
My face was bare and so was my head. I’ll interject to admit I could have been a little dramatic about  the heat but I felt like I was peering into the center of the sun and so did my skin. My forehead and face were streaked with sweat. Walking for miles, my knees hurt and my legs hurt. My back hurt and I was tired. Not just tired, but consumed, oddly barren but so heavy and so hot.  I carried nothing in my hand. I hadn’t drank anything for hours. Obsessed with the way my mouth felt, I was constantly opening and closing it, feeling how dry my tongue was against the roof. Opening and shutting my jaw to hear the click, to see how much I could open it, to feel it tense and lock near shut. Rubbing it with my hand, sort of humming cajoling it to open, it was on the verge of close without my input. When I arrived at the hospital, I was on the verge of collapse anyway so the entire process went faster.
My knees buckled from over exertion and anxiety when I walked in. I could barely stand so the attendings swarmed me to help. They brought me water and that’s when I spoke, for the first time to anyone all day.
“I can’t. I’ll choke.”
I fainted. I was so proud of my body for fainting.  I can’t lie. I feel the constant need to confess so I had walked for miles until I fainted. They tried to ask my name. I whispered and they repeated back: Sadia? I could only nod. When someone has no ID, they use Doe or Smith as a last name to keep everyone separate. I was Sadia Smith. I was admitted to Pennsylvania Presbyterian Hospital for severe dehydration and exhaustion and later admitted to Presbyterian’s acute psychiatric unit for a dissociative fugue. The name on my file said Sadia Smith. “Manic. Possibly psychotic.”
I heard them say that the following morning as I waited for my special consult. I was excited for the consult and this new shiny name. They had tucked me in a room with an older white woman who screamed randomly in the night. She didn’t scream all night, just whenever the urge came over her at unpredictable intervals.  I felt I deserved that. I liked that I couldn’t sleep. The next morning a very warm and fuzzy glow masked my eyes as I walked the unit avoiding drinking water, avoiding breakfast, avoiding comraderie. Me, with my freshly shaved head and blue gown and the word “courage” written in permanent marker on my skull (I wanted to see if it would make a good tattoo), avoiding. I felt giant. I felt like laughing in their faces. Sure, I’m thirsty. Who isn’t?

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