It was three months ago today that a woman of many names passed away.
I met Kim McDonald in 1980 at the science fiction and fantasy bookstore I worked at. I was a year out of high school. I’d spent the previous fall and winter at Oregon State University but the Corvallis branch of the store was sold and I didn’t have a job any more, my girlfriend dumped me on Valentine’s Day, and I was homesick already, so I went back down to Eugene to live with my folks and at went back to work at the Eugene shop.
Kim came in one night and we got into an argument about some book and then she hung around until closing and drove me out to my folks’ house where we talked all night about science fiction and fantasy books we liked. And that was the start of four years together.
Kim’s first name was Teresa, but during our time together she also went by TK and Starsea. She’d often introduce herself by the latter name when she met new people at the monthly party we went to at author John Varley‘s house, where she’d wear springy antenna headgear.
It was an incredibly productive period for both of us. Aside from our jobs, TK was involved in the local theater scene (she’d graduated in theater arts from the UofO) and we played games, went to the then-new Bijou Theater, and visited friends. I was failing school before I dropped out because of the economy, but that was the period I wrote and published a play-by-mail game and organized Eucon, a science fiction convention.
Things didn’t last, though, and by 1985 it was all over. TK moved out of the house we were renting from my parents and moved on with her life. She came to my birthday party at the end of the year, but after I moved to Portland, we didn’t have any contact.
I did hear through the grapevine that she’d gotten married (twice, actually, after her first husband died) and was chosen as the 2006 Slug Queen. She worked for the UofO Philosophy Department administrative office for most of the 35 years she was at the university.
It was an incredible shock to hear from her widower, David Landázuri, a few days after her death, when he reached out to me to help piece out some of the time before he met her in 2003. I was staying in a motel in Gresham with my father during the February ice storm that had much of the Portland area (and beyond) in a power blackout, just after he’d had cancer surgery. What’s been almost more of a shock was to realize how much of that era has slipped away from my memories. I wracked my brain to help David as much as I could and looked through what few photos I have from the pre-digital period. Just a couple of studio portraits, and a couple photos from a trip to the beach in Southern California with Kim’s mother. A couple of birthday cards with her address from when we met and that’s about it.
I was honored to be invited to participate in the Zoom memorial with a bunch of her firends and co-workers, all of whom probably know her better after being friends for years than I do living with her for a few years nearly forty years ago. But it’s still weird to know that someone who was such an integral part of your life in your earliest adult years is gone. Thanks to David for letting me know and for including me.
The University of Oregon has approved space for a memorial to their long-time employee. You can contribute at the GoFundMe link below.