The sagacity of hope

My beloved is endearingly superstitious, a trait she inherited directly from her mother. Could be a theater thing.   She spills some salt, she has to toss some over her left shoulder.  We’re walking side-by-side and find we’re split up to pass by a pole or some such, and she’s compelled to say, “Bread and butter.”  I’m supposed to say it too, otherwise: something bad will come between us.  I humored her for the first few weeks of our relationship, but soon branched off into reciting my own version of paired items.  “Marx and Lenin.”  “Thesis and antithesis.”  “Seals and Crofts.”  She says it’s okay, it counts.

One of my favorite of her superstitions is a digital-era tic: whenever a clock reads 11:11, you have to make a wish. Each time, it’s prefaced with the saying, “Eleven eleven, make a wish.”  Insiders can shorten it simply to, “Eleven eleven.” You know what you’re supposed to do next.

So when I sat down to work at the computer this morning, and saw its clock read 11:11, I was in a quandary. What to wish for first? I’ve wished for so many things that didn’t come true. And I suppose, I have to admit, many that did come true. But it’s human nature to overlook those.

A few years back, when my 11:11 wishes had to do with the fight for my nephew’s life, they were fierce. Neither my beloved nor I ever had to wonder what we were going to wish for when the clock struck 11:11. We looked at each other gravely and said nothing. Before our daughter’s birth, it was a kind of split wish: Erik’s miracle cancer cure, and a healthy birth. Then after our daughter was safely delivered, it was back to Erik’s miracle cure.

After his death six months later, I wished for the one-day mended hearts of his mother, brother, and father.  And for our own.

Since then, I’ve wished a lot less.

But since then, we’ve also been blessed. The conception and healthy birth of a second child. The blossoming of those two children in ways that amaze me daily. And don’t think Erik doesn’t have a heavy hand in that amazement. 

Three and a half years later, my sister and her family are growing accustomed to facing each new day with a family that appears to be a trio (though they know it’s a quartet). No one but them will know how heavy their hearts are, or how hard it is to wake up to that reality. But wake up they do, each day. And that is a wish come true for me.

This morning, when the clock struck 11:11, my first thought was a split wish, one shared by hundreds of thousands, more like millions of people like me: an Obama win, and the defeat of Proposition 8.

One of the oddest things to explain to other people is how painful all this wishing and hoping is. When you’ve never, ever felt advocated for, at a state-wide level, and then you are (with the California supreme court decision about gay marriage), and then the same old familiar hate script kicks in – special rights! the decline of the family! all that crap – the pain has a unique acuteness. Because the protective covering was coming off, in the wake of the court’s ruling. The thick skin was becoming tenderized. Exposed now, in a new way, to these hateful elements from which it had been so long protected. Y’all who’ve never had to toughen your skin like this might not be able to imagine what this feels like. Simplest thing I can say is, it feels like a vicious a double-cross, and it makes a strong case for cynicism.

By the same token, the fight against this hate makes an equally strong case for hope. We have always known that we LGBT people are a small minority of the population. It is our friends, family, and allies who make up a majority of it. So you see how this proposition is really a referendum on the strength of our love for one another. Not LGBT people’s love for one another.  Our straight allies’ love of us.  And of justice.

Is it wise to hope and pray and wish so? Wise, I don’t know. But fierce hoping is the precursor to fierce trying, and heaven knows if we do not try, the just world at the other end of those wishes would most certainly not come to pass.

So, people. It’s eleven eleven. Make a wish.

8 thoughts on “The sagacity of hope”

  1. Well, we might be a minority, but I don’t think we are a small minority. Ten percent seems like a pretty good chunk to me, but if we don’t get out on election day and actually vote, we guarantee loss. I’m always amazed when I see the statistics on the number of people who vote in each election- seems like it’s fairly low all the way around. I’m assuming that your readers fall into the voting end of things, but there must be some way to reach people who don’t actually take the time or who feel the process is meaningless (and lately, broken).

  2. Your writing is so eloquent, I really enjoy reading your blog.

    I don’t live in California and can’t help with voting, but my sister lives there and I know she’s on your side.

    Just know that out here in the very, very red state of Missouri you have support from a mom and her 13 y/o daughter (she has been advocating for gay marriage for over a year, I am so proud of her).

  3. I learned a new word today! Sagacity is one I’m certain I have heard before yet never understood what it meant, nor was I inquisitive enough to drag out Ye Ole Dictionary to look it up. Now, with a little help from, I not only know how to pronounce it correctly, I can use it in a sentance. Woo Hoo!

    I, as I am sure the rest of us who read this blog, share your twin wishes on this and every day until November. It is my hope that in the post election world we will have something to look forwad to for the next four years, and the tender flame of equality that has been lit in states like California will not be extinguished but instead, spread like wildfire across this nation under it’s new leadership. In my short 31 years on this planet I can not recall another election that had me so captivated, so nervous, and so terrified of its outcome. I shutter at the thought of where we will be in four years under the McCain-Palin leadership plan.

  4. Thank you thank you all you fine people; thank you lulazoid, from so afar, thank you Shane, thank you librarygrrrl.

    And you touch on a key point, Shane, with the beautiful image of the flicker of equality spreading across the country. One of the attorneys I heard speak last week in San Francisco, Deb Kinney, suggested that if the proposition is overturned, she expected that up to 25% of the states of the union would be in the process of considering/enacting same-sex marriage laws within a year.

    It is that significant.

    It is that expensive for the forces of hate and discrimination to try to fight this battle, and given the size of this state, and the conservative, Republican majority of the state Supreme Court that made the ruling (critical! can’t be overlooked! majority Republican!), it just doesn’t figure for them to keep fighting this fight if they lose here.

    I know I’m a broken record (oops! outdated metaphor! um, constantly rebooting YouTube feed?), but I still want to say: THIS IS WHY IT IS A NATIONAL AND NOT A STATE BATTLE.

    In spite of Californian’s myopia, in spite of our notorious egocentrism (and I sure am not going to argue against that; I got stories to tell), it’s true that the consequences of this will DEFINITELY affect your state, whatever it is. This is why I’m trying to raise funds nationally through this blog, and why I want any reader who feels even modestly inclined to send a link, any link, to a friend.

    Carolyn, thank you for the moral support, and for encouraging your sister to get the word out. There’s so much action at the top of the ballot, as it were, that it’s a lot easier for Propositions (which are so often so onerous) to get overlooked. Another challenge about this one is that a “no” vote is actually a “positive” or more friendly, loving move. No often feels bad, but in this case, it’s good. People often overlook the detail that the CA supreme court merely read the state constitution and its equal protection clause, finally, as protecting same sex partners’ rights to marry. It didn’t install anything new there. So the “no” is to leave things be. Or, more accurately, to keep from having a currently existing, currently recognized individual right from being REMOVED.

    It’s on this basis, the true legal basis on which the proposition stands, that we hope many otherwise fairly noncommittal people will vote no.

    Oh, and you know, anyone from anywhere in the US can support the battle by monetarily supporting the No on 8 campaign. Hey! I got a page for you right here!

  5. Hey, we may be far, but also near. My SO hails from the US of A, remember. We have been granted the permission to marry here some years ago, and have children and adopt… and yesterday, she filed for her new country’s nationality. It just seems right under the given circumstances.

    But I hope that her country will one day find it in its heart to welcome me as her equal partner, and not as her ‘friend’…

  6. I remember that wishing and hoping, yearning, praying. I worked to defeat the anti-gay amendment in Mass from 2003-2007 and every day felt like teetering on a precipice. I remember deciding to wear only marriage equality t-shirts to sleep in, and I remember making wishes. Hope will take you far.

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