Love is pure
1173 miles away
You know how every recipe online comes with a life story? Kelly Lum ran a site called Just the F*cking Recipe. She was very good at just that kind of finding and fixing a problem we all knew was there but never bothered to do anything about. If you look around online, you’ll see how much everyone who knew her loved and respected her.
I found out this morning that Kelly passed away last week. It feels silly to say, but Kelly Lum was my first online girlfriend. We met through her website (spinsugar.com) in the late 1990s, and we stayed in touch for a long time thereafter. I hesitate to post anything like this, but given its online nature, I wanted to try to honor the memory appropriately.
She called me Chris, and I called her Lummy. That is until she finally told me that she hated the name. She had a special way of being brash and bashful at the same time. She was a truly unique person with a talent, a genius, and a wit all her own. She was way smarter than I am, and I miss the way she kept me sharp.
Kelly used to do drawings and write poems for the zines I was making. We did a website together for a few years in the early 2000s. It was sort of an online journal that we both posted to. Sometimes we were talking to each other, sometimes we were just posting nonsense. We started it when I briefly attended the University of Georgia. She came to visit me in Athens while looking at schools. In a letter from her just after that visit, dated November 13, 1999, she asked, “Will you take over the world with me?” She didn’t end up going to UGA, and I moved to Atlanta and then San Diego not long after, but we continued the site even after I moved again, back to Seattle.
We kept in touch off and on over the years, but I hadn’t talked to her in a long time. Her passing has me thinking hard about the nature of online relationships, and how to honor and memorialize seemingly such a tenuous connection. She and I weren’t together that long, and we only met IRL the one time, but she had a profound impact on me. Her passing has me mostly thinking hard about her.
She had a clarity of intent that sometimes came off as something else. The last book she posted about was The Cement Garden by Ian McEwan. The phrase on page 66 describing windows like eyes as intimating “not concentration, but heavy sleep” has new meaning now.
I lost a hard drive full of writings not long after we broke up. It contained a whole directory about her called “The Lum Diary.” I wish I could share something from that time.
Kelly Ann Catherine-Xavier Lum… Rest in peace, Lummy. I’m sorry I ever called you that.