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.