“I’m From Watford City, ND”
Story by Kelley Halvorson; Artwork by featured artist, Brian Ness
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It was 1976, the year I won a Soprano spot in the North Dakota State Honors Choir. A small-town gal, I was thrilled to hang out with other music geeks for 3 days. The festival was fabulous — I learned to sing gospel music for the first time, and to improvise. I met so many great people that I found I didn’t even miss my sweet boyfriend, whom I left back home.
But what really mattered — what really, really mattered — was that every day, for about 8 hours, I was able to stand directly across from you — this gorgeous brunette in the Alto section — about 6 feet tall, and your legs were about 5 feet of it.
In 1976, girls didn’t have visible muscles, but you had actual muscle definition in her shoulders and arms! I asked a fellow soprano who you were — she said you were a gifted athlete from Dickinson. Rumor has it, she said, that you were a lesbian! I couldn’t stop staring–you often looked back. I blushed several times a day, lost track of the song measures and conductor’s direction. And looked again, heart pounding.
No, I never talked to you. I enjoyed you every day, felt tingling in all my 16-year-old private places, fantasized — then went home to my boyfriend. I forgot your name.
But I never forgot how I felt. I came out 2 years later. I thank you so much for my awakening. And gospel music still makes my heart pound, thirty years later.
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