I Hope We Choose Love: A Trans Girl's Notes from the End of the World
This collection of essays and poetry was an interesting one to attempt to jump start my brain with, after a period of nearly two months of not reading barely anything. There is a lot in I HOPE WE CHOOSE LOVE that I do really love, several essays that moved me to tears. In one essay, Thom describes a school for storytellers, "a great wide garden by the sea" with mentors and nurturing community, where we would engage with questions around "the purpose of story, the meaning of story, the who and what and where and when of telling a story." It's a beautiful image.
I would very much like to go to this mythical place. I have had, perhaps, more access to mentorship this summer than at any other time in my life, and it's mostly shown me just how little mentorship I've ever had. I don't even know where to start with interacting with someone who is in a position of mentorship. It's awkward and weirdly painful. It's necessary; meaning that I was, I guess, wounded by not having it when I needed it.
There is a lot of truth to the anecdote Thom relates elsewhere in the book, from when she was a family therapist. She learned the importance of teaching parents to say to their traumatize children, who were threatening to run away from home forever, "If you run away, I will come after you and find you and bring you home."
Low-key content warning: Some of the essays in this book are about suicide. Thom takes two positions on suicide, both informed by firsthand experiences. Of course as a trans woman of color, she has had to be part of the conversation around suicide. And on the one hand, she suggests that we pay more attention to the agency and personhood of the person who dies, instead of personifying a disease or struggle that acted on them, against their resistance. And on the other hand, she says that maybe telling suicidal trans girls that if they choose to die we'll support their choices is, like. Not a great way to be in community with hurting people.
Her willingness to take multiple positions on the same question, to consider sides and her own past opinions and say, 'well maybe, but what about this other thing?' is the most interesting thing about this book, and a daring critique of modern Discourse. I admire Thom's flexibility and thoughtfulness and wish there was more like it in the world.
Anyway. Mentorship. Chasing after the wounded who are, like cats, trying to hide in a dark corner under the porch where we can't get to them to take them to the vet. It's been hard to read this summer, but I'm glad I started trying to fix that with this collection.