It's hard for me to separate meeting Kate from meeting all of the members of my cohort in graduate school. Most of the groups who come in to the graduate school quickly split off into their own cliques, forming small groups who spend time together separate from everyone else – the year after my cohort, for example, the lighting and scenic design folks all hung out together and didn't spend much time with the rest of us. But my cohort in graduate school spent tons of time together: management, technical production, costume design, lighting design, scenic design, theatre studies, directing. We formed a big group across disciplines.
Kate was in theatre management (she works at Steppenwolf these days) and I am not sure when we decided that we totally loved each other, but I wager it was fairly early on in our relationship. Kate was in charge of many box-office things back then, I would always call her when I needed help with things. Mostly, though, Kate was just a badass. I think our favorite thing about one another was how much we actually loved theatre – not everyone in our cohort did. And we would often spend time actually talking about plays and even specific productions of plays. I dubbed Kate an Irish Theatre scholar when she started talking one day about Marina Carr's By the Bog of Cats... (which, by the way, I still haven't read. Shame.) And in our second year we ended up in our local bar watching an amateur production of McPherson's The Weir, drinking beer and listening to stories. I think another time she forced me to see a terrible amateur production of McDonagh's The Pillowman.
Actually, Kate frequently convinces me to do things I haven't planned on doing. Back when we were just starting out in grad school our friend Ben dubbed March BirthMonth/BeerMonth, a month filled with "splendiforous" events. Ben's birthday was in March and Spring Break was in March and, well, that was enough to give it its name. Ben even used to answer the phone "Happy Birthmonth." Anyway, the year I was writing my master's thesis, Ben and Kate decided to throw a Tuesday-night kegger. ("Nothing says Tuesday like a keg.") I was knee-deep in rewrites and really needed to stay home and work, but Kate called me and talked me into going to the kegger. I, of course, had a blast. We also both became obsessed with FSU's production of The Rocky Horror Show; we went three times apiece and happily yelled obscenities along with the cast. Fuck the front row! / Fuck the back row!
Since Kate has left Tallahassee she worked for a year in Hotlanta, where I used to go up to visit her and see shows at the Alliance Theatre. We saw the most extraordinary production of Jesus Christ Superstar Gospel at the Alliance, and since Kate has been gone from Atlanta, we've still managed to meet in Atlanta on the average of once a year. Kate always plans these trips meticulously, including more people than I ever think will actually attend, and filling the trip with lots of fun things to do.
One of my best memories of Kate's organizational abilities was in the Summer of 2009. My grad-school cohort had all just said goodbye to each other and it was really hard for all of us to part, but that Summer, Kate organized a reunion in New York City, and, like twenty-five people came, meeting for dinner on the Upper West Side. We ate, we drank, we laughed, and it was clear to me that night that I wasn't really saying goodbye to my friends: that I would see them all again and again very soon. I was so incredibly grateful for that night, and it has remained etched in my memory ever since.
I just got back from seeing Kate in Chicago a couple of days ago. I was struck again as we caught up on our lives just how supportive and what a fierce defender of her friends Kate is. She is so incredibly loyal and tenacious, and I love her for it. She also loves beer, loves theatre, and took me to a hilarious evening of prose/music work (at which her boyfriend Matt performed) that revolved around nine imaginary birds. It was fantastic. Seeing Kate this April, and seeing her again this Summer, is always a reminder of just how close we are, how much we love each other, how invested in each other's success we are, and how grateful we are for one another. She is truly an incredible person, and I am proud and thankful that I know her and that she is such a dear friend.