I had a religious epiphany the night that Doug Jones was elected to the U.S. Senate from Alabama.

I guess I should mention that I’m not just a politically nosy Northerner. I have family roots in Alabama. My biological grandfather was from Tuscaloosa, and if he hadn’t died tragically young at the age of 28, I probably would have spent a lot more time there growing up.

As it is, I’ve visited a few times. (I remember the gold of the long afternoons, and my cousin’s horse barn, and the barbecue. Oh my Lord, do I remember the barbecue.) We still have family down there. I grew up rooting for the Crimson Tide, a football team clearly named by a man unfamiliar with anything involving a woman’s reproductive system (no, their mascot is not Aunt Flo). We all have matching T-shirts.

On the night of that Alabama special Senate election, in early December 2017, things were looking pretty grim, both politically and in my general life. Roy Moore was the Republican nominee, and a pretty terrible one at that – accused of preying on multiple teenage girls, homophobic, clearly racist, a man who carried around a tiny gun onstage and rode a horse badly. But my family, we figured that, well, it’s Alabama, and he has “R” next to his name, and he was going to win.

My mom and my sister and myself were watching the movie “White Christmas.” (Bing Crosby classic; I highly recommend it.) I was drinking vodka. A lot of vodka. No, not mixed with anything. (Like I said, it was a rough time.) And we were watching the vote counts. And the numbers were … pretty even.

It was snowing outside. There was about 2 inches on the porch. I went out, rolled up my pants and knelt down. I pressed my palms into the snow. It was cold only for a moment. Then it began to hurt, which was fine with me, because I figured praying has to involve sacrifice in order to work. And I think praying is, technically, what I did. I looked up at the night sky, which was all quiet, and I said, “OK, you, out there, universe you.”

And I promised the out-there, whatever it is, that if Doug Jones, a Democrat, won that Senate seat in Crimson Tide Alabama, I would believe in something bigger, something out-there, something in the all-around. I didn’t specify what, exactly. (I’m the child of lawyers, I’m careful with binding contracts.)

The universe came through. And I’ve held up my end. I’m not sure what exactly I believe, in terms of spirituality or religion, but I believe in something, because I promised I would. And for about 18 months, I could turn up “Sweet Home Alabama” when it came on the radio and not feel guilty.

Until, of course, this past week, in which ‘Bama served up two heaping platefuls of Southern-fried nonsense – the first being the nation’s most vicious abortion ban, and the second being the refusal of Alabama Public Television to air an episode of the children’s cartoon “Arthur” that involves a gay wedding. Because, I guess, they figured that an 11-year-old child could handle pregnancy resulting from rape just fine without any psychological trauma, but seeing an anthropomorphic male rat marry a male aardvark would just mess those kids up for life.

It’s easy to ignore other states, Maine being tucked up way in the upper corner of America. It’s easy to write off Alabama as a place full of backward hicks – but if they’re hicks then so are we, given Maine’s trees-to-people ratio. And their laws may be backward, but unfortunately we’re all moving forward into the future at an unstoppable breakneck pace. Even Alabama.

An unofficial state motto of Alabama is “Rammer jammer yellowhammer, give ’em hell, Alabama” (pronounced either “rammah jammah,” to rhyme with “Alabama,” or “Alabammer” to rhyme with “yellowhammer”). It’s the University of Alabama’s football cheer. The yellowhammer is the state bird of Alabama, and the Yellowhammer Fund is a good place to donate money if you’re ticked off about the abortion restrictions and want to do something about it.

But the official motto of the Yellowhammer State is “Audemus jura nostra defendere.” It’s Latin for “We dare defend our rights.” And if there is one thing I can tell you for darn sure about Alabama, it’s that you don’t mess with Alabama women. They’re going to defend their rights to their own bodies. And I am right there with them.

Victoria Hugo-Vidal is a Maine millennial. She can be contacted at:

[email protected]

Twitter: mainemillennial

 


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