Cherokee Kid

Jim Alberty is a member of the Bird Clan of the Cherokee Tribe of Oklahoma. Born in Claremore, OK he now lives in Maine, working as a composer, writer and Creative for Apple. He is active in the Casco Bay area arts and education communities as a composer, musician, social dancer and actor.

The Point of Aphelion

If tomorrow all the things were gone
I’d worked for all my life
And I had to start again
with just my children and my wife ...

Tuesday evening was the end of a seemingly long day - though I'd gotten off work at 5 p.m. an hour stole away disguised as a nap in front of my computer.

The evening was cold, clear - pocked with stars.  I have enough curiosity about people to want to see how the elections came out - the last time I'd waited at the door of my polling place three hours before they opened, chair, comforter, table, coffee and laptop all to hand - comfy but alone except for people I met. This time I'd voted a week before. The seeming crushing possibility of President Obama's defeat made me want to find other people of a like mind to share it with.

I’d thank my lucky stars to be livin here today ...

My aimless ramble took me by the Holiday Inn By the Bay. Outside was my friend K - a wonderfully imaginative colleague. She was out smoking a cigarette (her one vice) and I offered her a hit from my hip flask, full of good single-malt whiskey (a Mac Clellan Islay - one of my many vices).

Knowing her orientation confirmed that this was the headquarters of the Yes On 1 watch party (K was helping watch doorways - she's a black belt in karate - you 'effin' DON'T mess with her). Perfect place and company with whom to wait for the apocalypse. 

The crowd in the room was surprisingly sparse but it was barely past 8 p.m. I kept looking for a place to sit but no chairs were available except for sofas in the hallways.

‘ Cause the flag still stands for freedom and they can’t take that away ...

I ran into a lot of gay/lesbian/transgendered friends, a catalog of people going all the way back to the first years of my life here in Maine.

Teachers, Ex-students, Cathedral people, Orchard people, theatre/dance people - all there in solidarity - and comfort - for this most basic of political affirmations - that gay people could be considered people, enough so that they could do really simple things like love, marry, build families, exist.

As the evening progressed my flask was confiscated and its contents emptied into a trash barrel - I love that flask - and I gladly switched to fruit juice. The room was filled with a nervous energy, bravado, a bit of fear, a sense of rightness that bordered more on certainty than arrogance.

No one thought it was in the bag. There was a lot of business at the cash bars - less so at the  cheese/fruit/chip buffets in the middle of the room.

And I’m proud to be an American,where at least I know I’m free.
And I wont forget the men who died, who gave that right to me

Returns came in. Democratic - I prefer to use the proper noun as originally intended rather than the right wing's phrasing as Democrat - Democratic candidates and causes seemed to be slowly pulling ahead in pretty much all the races.

I was most heartened by Elizabeth Warren having trounced Scott Brown. Facebook posts and tweets were coming from friends in Massachusetts, all of them equally heartened.

There are few things in the world that will make me physically angry. The pudgy frat-boy exclusionist racism displayed by Brown's campaign staffers earlier in the Fall had crossed that line. I really wanted to see Brown suffer - and least morally - and it was very satisfying to see it happen.

I suppose I'll return to my usual, inclusive self - but not today.

And I gladly stand up next to you and defend her still today ....

At 11:00 a flight of staffers fanned out through the crowd, telling us that we needed to in the ballroom to hear an announcement. I'd been on a sofa trying to find results online, gave up and went in.

The director of communications for Yes on One, surrounded by campaign staff, started thanking his people - the further he went the bigger the spoiler became, especially when he started crying.

Finally he said what people were dying to hear - the Question had passed. Gays would now be able to marry in the great State of Maine.

The room erupted into a solid wall of ecstatic sound, individual voices lost in a sea of excitement.

It was genuine pandemonium - well, that might be the wrong word because that word means "many demons" and there was no evil the the room. Quite the opposite - a lot of healing and closure was going on, real-time crossing over from fear and anger into acceptance and peace.

And really loud shouting, accompanied by rather enthusiastic behavior.  I almost had my first-ever gay kiss but someone intercepted the guy while he was grabbing my arm. I assume they were friends.

Oh well. Probably better if he kissed a gay guy rather than me. Besides being the only Native American in the room - that I could see - I might be the only straight guy.

I'm used to being the only one in the room.

But only in terms of getting kissed. We were all, finally, equal in actuality of the law and affirmation of society - as well as morally.

Thank you, my gay friends, for giving the rest of Maine a chance to catch up with where you already are.

A knot of us stood in a corner, trading stories, chatting as intimate strangers will, when from the far corner a roar began. It pulled people over like water suddenly freed through an opened drain.

Ohio had been declared for President Obama - it was over.

And I gladly stand up next to you and defend her still today

Now we all exploded. Dance music, present all evening, suddenly doubled in volume and people jumped and screamed. Hugs. Dancing. I'm sure people were kissed but I was too busy standing and smiling.

Then, suddenly, the music switched to a solid country-western beat. Lee Greenwood's redneck anthem rang out - "I'm Proud to Be An American". Of all the choices Chris O'Donnell - the DJ and former drum corps person - could make, why this one?

Then an amazing thing happened. The shouting died down and people began singing along with Lee Greenwood ....

...... and suddenly it all made sense.

The mindless - literally, it seems - irrational conservative agenda had appropriated the idea that they were the "real" America and only they could be "patriotic" - that if you wave the flag you were in favor of George Bush and his disastrous wars, you acknowledged that "white" culture was the best, you were against a woman's right to choose, of committed couples of any gender to marry, that there were "kinds" of rape, that some cultures were better just "because" .....

..... and all of it - every last bit - had been rejected

‘ Cause there ain’t no doubt I love this land
God bless the USA

We were given back our country. Given back our flag.

All of us - gays, straights, African-Americans, Asian-Americans, Latinos, Caucasians, men, women, kids - oh, and one Native American standing alone and smiling - all of us were Americans.

*  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  

After midnight. The air was cold, the sky pocked with brilliant stars. The three block walk back to my apartment was slow, thoughtful.

It was now a new day.

I went to bed, eager to get up to meet it.

And I gladly stand up
next to you and defend her still today

‘ Cause there ain’t no doubt I love this land
God bless the USA

Portland, Maine