Katy lives inland—inland in a way that coastal south shore people say with goggly eyes and a whisper—a long ways inland, with directions that include the road turns to dirt and keep going until you think you've gone too far. Her English parents fret for her from the motherland, imagining her lugging seven cords of wood in February and coaxing bullish chickens and shovelling her roof. And she does. There's a three-legged cat, a 1960s cocktail bar beautifully stocked with electric lamps and naked lady martini glasses. A stack of Victorian porn that someone traded with her for videography. She is never without Pimm's. She wears mustard-coloured tights and bright teal pumps and a black and white checkered miniskirt. Inland, she's rare to the point of scandalous. I certainly hope so, she says.
Her house is a museum, a jalopy and marvellous and glamorous and fantastic curation of all the best things you can imagine. Oh my god, I say, leaning into a frame. WHERE DID YOU GET THAT.
I embroidered it, she says. A guy said that to me once.
Her dining room wall is jewelled; the bathroom floor gold-glittered; the ceiling black. She did it all herself. She thinks the necessary beige of resale is bullshit. She's got a twenty-year plan for an outdoor cave made of growing willow trees. I lean into another thing. It's her.
We wander to find the right light. A chair lives outside.
An animal keeps eating it, she says. I want it to get mossy. But something keeps eating it.
Everyone says you won't get a good shot of them. Everyone. Every single person. It's such a curious thing. I've written about it before. I've faced a lens, shrinking, thinking about my nose or my grey or my personal mental catalog of potential awkwardness. And I've been on the camera side, as I am mostly, shaking my head at all that I can see that my subject can't. From here, every face is a Katy, a rare bird in one way or another. Quirks of expression and shadows of sad things and good strong lines and sweet, sweet hesitancy, that delicate unspoken moment of trust.
Katy and Alan have an agreement. He tolerates being picked up every now and then. She lets him chew the wallpaper and hide under her desk when she's editing music videos.
As you get older, get choosier. Spend whatever time you've got with people that have a strong sense—humour, aesthetics, wonder, eccentricity, play. Plenty of people don't. Plenty of people would think it odd to pair mustard with teal. Turn around to look in all directions at your life and you might realize that you've been collecting it all along, drawing it to you as much as you can. Gold glitter and temperamental bunnies, all of it treasures, and it makes me—all of us—rich.