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July 2024
Vol. 23, No. 10
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Talkin’ Craft

Hope Dies Last

by Lindsay WhiteJuly 2024

I almost asked Liz from the Troub for a hall pass for this month’s column, but I think I can pull it off since all I’m doing is sitting here thinking about hope and death. Might as well write about it.

LIndsay and Benny

A few weeks ago, I got the terrible, horrible, no-good, very bad news that my ex-husband passed away unexpectedly. I won’t get into the nitty-gritty (though you can read some memories and musings here if you’d like), but I’ll just state that I loved him since I was 14 and he was very much harmed in the wake of my coming out and we were unsuccessful in repairing our relationship in the way that I had hoped.

Hope. Awful. Dead hope? Sickening.

I’m not sure what kind of karmic debt I must be working off in this lifetime, but I have witnessed hope’s last gasp against my effing will more times than I can count. Back in 2017 I experienced essentially a carbon copy of what I’m experiencing now, only with my mother. While I held my breath hoping for some road back to the love I knew was still alive between us, she (drumroll please) died. Along with the hope.

I got the news of my ex’s death while my wife was in El Paso for her nephew’s graduation. She decided to travel there for this important milestone, a tough choice considering her parents don’t accept our child (two years), marriage (eight), or partnership (11). She has zero hope they will ever come around (she would rather beat hope to death herself than pathetically watch it die in the distance like me). Even as I snotted into my California pillow alone that night, I couldn’t help but strategize ways to ensure Audrie never goes to El Paso by herself again, even though all reason and logic tells me that hope will die at someone’s funeral, too. It’s like a sickness, this hope. A whack-a-mole game that I keep stuffing quarters into even though I suck at it.

What’s the opposite of the Midas touch? That’s me and hope—with fertility, relationships, career, blah blah blah. I won’t bore or torture you with it. But I will disclaim that I know disappointment is just a feature of the human experience, and that mine doesn’t even compare to, let’s say, watching the people you love become trapped, bombed, displaced, disabled, orphaned, tortured, and/or forcibly starved by genocidal monsters. I’ll also say that I hit the hope jackpot with my daughter River, which puts a real shiny polish on most, if not all, of the turdy experiences I’ve referenced. I get the whole “grow through what you go through” adage. I can be a lucky ducky and a sad sack at the same time, k?

“I don’t know how more people don’t just collapse in the street from life being so painful,” I texted my friend the other day. Move over Rachel Dratch, there’s a new Debbie Downer in town.

I always joke that grief has become part of my brand, but a more accurate explanation is that grief keeps branding me. And it fucking hurts. And one of the only things that prevents me from lying down in the grave alongside all these humans I loved and burrowing my way into the decaying hope that shrouds them is writing about that hurt.

In last month’s Pride edition column, I discussed the varying degrees to which LGBTQ+ artists incorporate their queerness into their artistry. I’m realizing so much of my queer experience is synonymous with my grief experience and is synonymous with my music catalog. People fuss about our damn Pride parades—they don’t realize how so many of us are walking talking mini-Stonewall riots unto ourselves. The only thing we’re really celebrating is surviving. Turns out hope doesn’t die last after all because queers spring eternal.

Coming Up
Allow me to start working on a new hope that you will get your booty to our next Songwriter Sanctuary show on Friday, July 26. I know this column slightly flipped it and reversed it back to Mrs. White’s gayborhood, but that’s okay because our first featured artist, Angel René Wilson, could have just as easily been billed on last month’s Pride lineup.

Angel René Wilson

A full-time honors English major and law student at San Diego Mesa College, Wilson balances rigorous academics with his roles as a performer, writer, and founder of MARTYR, a local music and arts production company. He is currently working on his debut album, a book, and a short film, all set for release in 2025, while planning to transfer to UCLA in the fall.

I reached out and asked Wilson to describe some of the patterns and recurring themes that crop up in his body of work. Imagine my surprise-but-not-surprise (can we make that a thing, like sorry not sorry?) when he talked about, you guessed it, H to the izz-O, P to the izz-E:

“Hope in pain and pain in hope. My life has been synonymous with hope and pain. Finding one in the other, and different points, has been salient through most of my coming of age. It seems impossible for me to write without touching on at least one.”

Samesies, friend. (Side bar—if you’re reading this and have never heard Angel perform, I’d highly recommend taking advantage of the opportunity to witness his voice and musicianship soar in Normal Heights United’s sanctuary. It’s going to be a match made in John Legend-like heaven. I’m ready to go right now).

Francis Blume

Aaron Bowen

While Wilson is the only featured act I was able to snag a quote from this go-round (your girl is neck deep in grief and didn’t have the capacity to pester), I hope it piques your interest to know he will be joined by Francis Blume, who sounds like good cinematography feels, and Aaron Bowen, who is in a league of his ow(e)n. Lol, I tried, you guys. See you there!

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Thanks for Talkin’ Craft with me!
Photos provided by artists.

 

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