March 20, 2002
"A sweater, warm socks & bad genes"
[The following is a letter to D. F. written October 22, 2001
Up at 3 a.m. for no good reason (med-change insomnia), so a rapid response. Pink carpeting, huh? Hmm. Yes, I imagine something rather different.. you living in a room at the Plaza, some big executive, zipping from place to place on a constant caffeine buzz, delicate and subtle yet commanding in your rule, long lunches, fine wines. But what do I know? I've always fancied myself some sort of crown prince upon which a terrible spell was cast sending him forward in time to live out the poet's life of squalor in a time when neither royalty nor a gift for the written word are much appreciated. So, we're even there.
Well, pink carpet or no, I will patiently yet eagerly await the honor of visiting Little Juarez. NH? Yes, every damn relative I have lives there. Well, a lot of them anyway. All my father's siblings (the one's that survived to bear offspring), their children (such as myself), and scores of oddly assembled grandchildren and great grandchildren, some fatherless, some motherless, some toothless. I can never remember all of their names. What a legacy.
Back to the subject of survival, one aunt diagnosed schizo and lost to suicide at 21; one uncle really lost in 1969, to the sea, whilst playing guitar in the mouth of a Maine cave, the stormy Atlantic thrashing all about until a large wave claimed him, a quazi-suicidal departure I place up there with several concurrent rock star deaths. And not that you asked, [but I've got nothing to do but reflect at 4:11 in the morning so what the hell], but the more I slip into the dark pit of some inexplicable despair, the more I pity all my cousins and their children. For with each passing year, dark details drift my way, tiny yet ever-so-consequential, like snowflakes silently flittering past your face at 12,000 feet in late-May signaling the approach of a freak storm for which you're sorely unprepared.
Dark details such as an aunt who's kept a lid on depression for years and allegedly once spent four months without leaving the house, crippled by agoraphobia. And that other uncle, the one you so looked up to until his rebirth into Christianity, lives on a diet of Prozac sandwiches and St. John's Wort tea. And your own father? You know that over-bearing and annoyingly self-righteous salesman persona that carries over from his work into his personal life? Who would have known of the insecurities and low self-esteem that lie beneath.
I once revered the McKinney name, so taught by my proud uncles and grandfather. Well, Grandpa McKinney just died after an amazingly light-hearted four year Alzheimer's stint. Four years of smiles and laughter and absolutely-fuckin-clueless-gaiety on the heels of what appeared to us grandchildren a morose and anxious life. Why the gaiety? Had he simply forgotten to be miserable? Or had the Alzheimer's killed that part of his brain wherein the melancholia dwelt and continues to dwell and dwell in the brains of all of us, we that carry his bad, brooding blood?
Whoa. Or is it whao? Anyway, I seemed to have really gone off on a rampage of sorts. To answer your other questions, yes, I was raised in NH & MA until The Divorce in 1981, at which point Mom stole us away to San Diego. Physically, I will be 35. Intellectually, hard for me to say. Emotionally? Four. And I'm not talking golf. But to my credit, spiritually I am 927. How `bout that? [Remember, I'm a prince!]
Glad you enjoyed Vermont. What's your connex there? G.? The Autumn foliage? And yes, I remember layers. Once built a snow fort in 6' high drifts up against our house in 1978. Never forget it. Best fun ever.
This Saturday morning I'll be sitting on an old train trestle watching the mist rise off the river downstream from our old cabin on Lake Winnisquam. In the afternoon, my aunt and I will share in the family's celebration of our late October Birthdays.
March 20, 2002