128 Days

Sometimes I remember that I counted down 128 days until I moved to Chicago.

That day 96 was so bad I remember thinking

96, 96, 96.

95 and a half.

That I showed up with almost no social skills, no idea how to hold a conversation, no idea how to make friends, and I learned it all.

I taught myself how to make pop culture references, to pass for Had Normal Childhood and Definitely Not Crazy

That I had a single-minded idea of what I wanted to study

That I doubled my courseload so I could learn Arabic.

That in four years, I became Kate, and then Kate Donovan

That I wrestled myself out of
panic attacks in bathrooms
an obsessive breakdown—thirty days I barely remember—an entire month of May gone.

by force of will, and quitting the thing I loved doing most.

I have whole notebooks of crazytalk and talking-myself-out-of-it

And friendships so long I can count them in years.

That’s what’s on my diploma.


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