world lines

I’ve been thinking for some time about this space here online. How it compares to the space in my head, in my house, the spaces between each of us. I suspect they are all connected.

This year, I’ve written very little. I had a stalker for a while, and then this fall I got tangled in a clog of spooks. They invaded my privacy and my peace as they tried (but failed completely) to determine exactly who and what I was. I doubt they could even see me properly even when we were in the room together, they were so out of sync with actual life.

Their attention was a penalty for showing happiness, forward motion, and for speaking truth inside the war machine. It’s a rollicking sort of story, which I may tell more of one day – it features ships and pirates and topology and surfaces. There is treachery, of course, but not mine.

As a result of all of that, I can’t really remember how it felt to speak freely here. When I visit my archives, I’m surprised at how open I’ve been.

tucson kitchen window

I suppose that I wrote so much over the past 25 years because I was achingly, existentially lonely in a world that didn’t understand me. I wrote in the hope that my words could go farther than my feet, my ideas further than my own mind. That they might move into the world and find kindred spirits.

It worked. I connected with people all over the planet; my books are at the poles, my connections are deep and wide. My worldlines tendril all over; I am linked with you, as you are here now. I’ve gone to faraway countries, and met people on the street who said, to each of our wonderment, “I’ve read your blog!”

sky in tucson, photo by kate mckinnon

I loved the Internet immediately. As soon as I comprehended what it was, I learned a bit of HTML and constructed a virtual mirror of my life, a place I could pour my thoughts into, a place to put things I might forget. There was no word for blog.

Making my own web site was so much easier than reporting directly to individuals. Anyone who wanted to know where I was, what I was doing, or what I was thinking could go to an equivalent mirror on their own desk and look into mine. It was magical, like remote viewing in a pool, it was a kind of nakedness to me, a truth.

Now, decades later, the web is unbeautiful, unknowable in its crevices. It’s a living supersociety, but not a good one. People behave horribly in general, I know, but it seems intensified online. I find myself turning away, celebrating the physical world.

In acknowledgment of what has recently burned me, I’ve vowed to burn clean.

The Tucson house went on the market earlier this month, and it might not be long before it’s in new hands. It seems that the house got lucky and found people who love it for what it is; clean-lined midcentury mod, but also warm and peaceful, vibrant and real.

Over the last year I’ve given away almost all of the treasures I collected over a lifetime. I want to get as close as I can to freedom from possessions, from ownership, from the responsibility of protecting my space.

Cooper Pool May 2013

Screen Shot 2017-12-19 at 3.21.31 PM

Screen Shot 2017-12-19 at 3.21.04 PM

This house has been such a refuge for me, in fact for many of us. I feel a deep gratitude for the place. On the day of the Open House, I wept at the depth of it as I walked the garden for the last time before the sign went up, feeling the connections, hearing the echoes of the laughter, the birdsong, the boys squealing in the pool.

As I’ve handled each thing I’ve given away, I’ve thought about where they came from (all over the world) and what they were made of: wood, pigment, cloth, clay, metals, paper…. each thing elemental, each object speaking of many lands, many hands. I could see how my collection was talismanic.

I had wood from many forests, dirt from many lands. Artisans and makers from all over the world created the boxes, tables, paintings, sculptures. Figures of clay, of metal; elements dug from the earth, cut from trees, pigments squeezed from fruits, nuts, clay and dirt, sparkling colours ground from precious stones.

I had ballgowns, costume jewelry, red silk curtains. Hats, scarves, and handbags. Shoes, dancer lamps, rugs, furniture.

Owls, Lamps, and Boars, Cooper House, Kate McKinnon. 2010

When I look at these things in the pictures, now I see the people who have them.

When I look at the garden wall, I see every lizard who has ever cavorted on it. Below is a photo from Orangelina’s last season; she is eating worms with Owen, her young son, and Mr. Long & Lovely, her last lover.

lizard family breakfast july 2015

The resonance of everything that has ever been fills my senses.

In a way, it seems I have let go of what might look like Everything for the privilege of having what might look like Nothing, but honestly, I’ve never felt clearer, closer to light.

This cleanness is not Nothing, and I am no longer achingly lonely; in my dreams, I am working, and in my work, I am dreaming, and in this moment, I am whole.

16 thoughts on “world lines

  1. i have slowly been de-possessioning my life for a while. keeping the memory which is simpler.

    now i get to do it for my Dad’s home, now that he’ died. he has objects he cherished that belonged to many, including generations of ancestors & relatives. i expect many more mysteries.

  2. “I wrote in the hope that my words could go farther than my feet, my ideas further than my own mind. That they might move into the world and find kindred spirits.” Your words and ideas have met and influenced more people than you’ll ever know, Kate. I remember finding your blog, after getting CGB Vol. 1 and thinking “This is a kindred spirit, so lively, thoughtful (in the sense of thinking things) and essentially kind.” CGB continues to rock my world. I selfishly hope that you will continue to write, and think, and dream – and share it with all of us. Big aloha and best of luck.

  3. Kate,
    Whether you feel people undstood some things you wrote, OMG, your an Alunna of MIT, that on it’s own has your brain bouncing around and sometimes kinda WTF for me, but I’m a little nuts anyway. You’ve been through so much, decluttering is a fete! It’s a learning process. My dad died recently. Everything was important. Last Sunday was his third anniversary. I’ve found what’s truly special, that keeps him around me. I know there’s a lot more to let go of, but my family cut me off but I just might leave a few boxes at their doorstep. A lot of us have been down the road with you.i always wished I could have the smarts for your amazing gold walls. It’s very, very hard to give up a home. Remember the really good times, the times you were so glad to be alone, privacy. Hold on to the good. You’ve accomplished an unbelievable part of you, but your heart took you there. Be proud of what you’ve done, who you are and most importantly, the amazing world yet to come.
    With an endless abundance of love,
    Marianne Foster

  4. Wow! Really, just… wow! I see the photos of your house and I have to admit, I feel a little sadness. “Where’s Kate?” I want to ask as I look at them. At the same time, I see that you are right here. Right where you are, in this here and now. I’m sad and glad for you, simultaneously, for everything you’ve been through and what grand possibilities await. I just want you to know I have loved reading your words over the years. You’ve touched me and I know you’ve touched others. What a beautiful impact you continue to have on those of us who have been lucky enough to find themselves in your sphere.

  5. Reading this makes me want to weep but I don’t know if for sadness or happiness. As I get older I contemplate my life and what it all means if anything – I think of the “things” I have collected and love and what will become of them one day. I wonder where the time went and if I spent it wisely?

  6. You know, Kate, what a lifesaver your first book was for me. It set me on a journey not yet completed, and for which I can never thank you enough. It gave me a focus when there was only sadness and encouraged me to move forward on my own. Thank you for that. I hope that life will now treat you more kindly in the future, and you will continue your blogs. We look forward to them!!

  7. I love your blog Kate and one of your ramshorn clasps is part of my treasures, firmly attached to one of my favourit beading pieces.
    I think the beading world web is such a wonderful thing we share our creative spirit and those little beads of colour connect our collective hearts and imagination, amazing really. I am glad you have come out the other side of such a trying time and look foreard to reading about your next adventures… xx

  8. I love how you put these beautiful feelings in words, all beautiful, resounding within. Having been forced to leave everything behind one day too, it made me feel nostalgic. I still can remember some objects as if I just held them a minute ago, but only if there is a story related to it. I am sorry that you had to let go of your beautiful place, where you have so many beautiful memories. Memories…. are the moments where you were most present. The more time we spend on the Internet, the least memories we create. I wish that I could have a normal life and do just what you say so well: celebrating the real world. I comfort myself with the idea that I am in contact, at least, with very real people like you. Thank you for being you, and most of all, for being real.

  9. So happy to see your words again. The memories will always remain and can always be carried with you, they take up no physical space and weigh nothing (at least as far as we are able to measure on this plane). No wonder you feel lighter and less burdened, so much easier to travel. May you continue your wonderful adventures, connecting in each moment and creating yet more precious and beautiful memories to be treasured.

Comments are closed.