A "Book Of Life"
My life in years, written in 2004-2005, revisited in 2017

Twenty Seven
November 10 1985 - November 9, 1986

I don't know quite how to proceed. The spiral bound notebook I was reading informs me the next journal book is red covered. I have no red covered books in my possession. So I am left to memory.

I do remember asserting to Gramma that I would find a church that supports things I value. I tried the first Sunday on my own at a local Unitarian/Universalist church. It was small, and didn't seem to have many people my age. It very much gave the impression of 'needing new blood'. The next Sunday I drove twenty four miles to an MCC, (Metropolitan Community Church), the 'community' being LGBT. The preacher was dynamic, the congregation larger and more filled with people my age and seemed lively. I decided to stick with the MCC.

Yes, it was more Christian in orientation than the UU church, but overall, it held greater appeal. And maybe at that time, I needed to reclaim some of those themes from the sort of Christian who would try to deny me them. So I spent two years in fellowship with them before I moved to Arizona of the many palm trees.

The next journal in sequence that I can find starts off in August of 1985. I find many descriptions of people I'd met through various venues, and I find myself curious as to where those people are now. I also continued the 'subconsciously produced dream while awake' occasionally and this was the result on a Saturday morning: (Okay, with closer examination, it more accurately belongs within the last year's remembrance, but I'm still letting that end with the prophetic dream.)

September 21, 1985

...river, green grass, trees... I'm drawn to the river. I walk to the edge of the river and look in as if to pierce the depths. ''What is in the river? What gives it its power, its rushing current?'' I want to know the source of the current and dip myself within that I might know its power. ''Oh river that I stand before, oh Power within, into which I shall plunge.''

There I am, plunging without reservations. Twenty years later (now thirty two years later)), having found the Source of the (electrical) current, I continue to open myself without reservations. Desire opens the gateway, and I find this strangely liberating.

In addition to these spiritual/mystical/magical ponderings, I also spoke of my ambitions as a writer. Each time I sent off a poem to a poetry magazine, I noted it in these pages. Small wonder that I dreamt of fame:

January 10, 1986

While at the bookstore today, persuing the many books of advice, I noticed Writer's Digest, the magazine for writers. I bought it, thinking it may have some advice for me. Oh the scads of poetry contests it listed, and other places a hopeful writer may send her efforts. It got me motivated. It seems so long since I've written. (2004 note: It'd been two weeks, but that's an eternity to one with the writing habit!) To get the juices flowing, I again tapped into my subconscious, letting the images come as they may. The following is the result:

Images of Fame

First Passage: A star image, flat, five pointed looms before me. It is faintly irridescent, and grows in size. Intrigued, I touch each of its points. Suddenly, it's gone and I'm left staring at the night sky, resplendent with its zillions of stars, wondering if one of them is mine.

Second Passage: The background is still the starry heavens. However, now I am standing on a winding ribbon like pathway that unfurls itself through space. Up ahead there is an arch, making itself a gate. I am nervous for I wonder if the path is wide enough. Fear of heights again.

To relax, I sit down, letting my legs dangle off the edge. Swinging them back and forth in the spaciousness around me, I decide perhaps this is not such an unpleasant place after all. I pull out my lunch bag and begin lunching. The Gate is still ominous, as the path isn't so visable after it. But I shall take tiny steps.

Third Passage: Facing the Gate. On the right leg of the arch, there is a security buzzer, like those found in high-rent apartment buildings. I look for the names of who ... or what? ... I seek.

There are all sorts of names, each with its own button: Pride, Vanity, Ambition, Lust, Will to Power, Fear, Desire for Attention, Laughter, Gaiety, Amusement, Praise, Affection and Invoking the Jealousy of Others. ''Hmmm, which of those to choose? Can I choose more than one, have a party" Forcing myself to choose, I push 'Praise' button. I wait for the sound of the buzzer. Perhaps no one is home. I push again. No answer. ''Well, that's that, then.''

I turn back towards the road. ''But do I really want to go where I've been?'' No, so I venture again before the name board. ''How about 'Will to Power'?'', feeling just a big large. No answer.

''Have I got this all wrong?'' I try other buttons. There is no response, either. ''What am I doing wrong? what is the clue?'' I grow weary, and lie down on the ground beneath the gate. To sleep I go, and rapidly dream's images took me fast, like swift-footed companions. They take me to many countries, times and peoples. My subconscious laughs with amusement at all these journeys.

But soon the sound of many buzzers awaken me. It is time to get up. I do, and saunter off through the gate.

I am still trying to figure that one out. It is though Higher Self were telling me to get on with the business of living. There are many ways I can complete those journeys. And what is the 'Gate'? Perhaps I will understand this later in life.

Perhaps the gate is simply the gateway to one's desires. Perhaps, indeed, 'getting on with the business' of life is the gist, that I had (and have) ahead of me many varied experiences, and these and what I make of them shall determine the outcome of my life.

Not too many entries after that one, I speak January 29, 1986 of the space shuttle Columbia's disaster and the seven lives that were lost.

Also, I have a very detailed rendering of the Chicago Gay Pride parade events at the end of June. It was so exciting to be going out and seeing places and things I'd never seen before. I described some of the more exotic persona there, ''one drag queen, two guys in leather, (one 'real bad', complete with pierced nipples and a chain connecting the two hoops), two tattoed lesbians ... The most interesting spectacle was someone dressed up as the Statue of Liberty, all in silver and was walking all over the park at the rally, having people getting their picture taken with him.''

I wish I'd have been one of those daring people. Imagine that picture here! I was amazed at the sea of people at the rally, all straining to see and hear the Mayor speak. It was a day I've not forgotten.

With all this involvement with the LGBT community, and gaining self confidence there, I soon found myself wanting to branch out into the larger community. I found an ad for LEX, a letter exchange forum, and decided to test my pen against those found within its borders.

October 30, 1986

The ad I placed in the Letter Exchange, an open forum for letter writers, reads as follows:

Hello, future friend. Let's talk mind to mind, which has no gender and no skin color. Let's strip down to the heart and talk about those things which really matter . . . hopes, fears, passions, dreams, and the faith that gets us through the night.

I meant the part about no gender. The code number 2424 does not reveal my sex. I didn't choose to in the ad. Many of my lesbian penpals wondered if I could possibly stand writing to a man. I cannot relate to the separatist view that all the cells that went into making of the male genitalia deprived the brain of a few.

I'd hoped to acquire a male coorespondant or two. But strangely, since the AD appeared, it has attracted exclusively females. I'm not exceedling disappointed, yet, I've wanted intimate mental communication with a man. Somehow the 'alienness' of their sex and that perspective holds a certain allure for me. Communication possible even with the limitations of the differences of the sexes! Somehow more ultimate, reaching across that abyss...

So there I was, hoping to breach the 'ultimate frontier'. Little did I know what was soon in store for me! On the opposite page in the LEX booklet was another ad, face to face to mine when the book was closed, was an ad from a person who wrote:

I Love Letters, reply to all. Age 45+. Subjects: humor, computers, psychology, transsexualism, books, movies, science, life, et al. Sincerity and openness. ---Laura

I, however, didn't write her until November 19, 1986, and that begins a tale for the next year of my life.

Twenty Eight
November 10 1986 - November 9, 1987

In 2004, I hesitated to begin this year's remembrance, for I was missing Laura so. It had only been two years since she died. As I was writing in 2004, the printer on the computer spontaneously started up today and printed one small heart, then quit. It did this one other time. Could it be that she was trying to get a message to me? She always said that if she could, she would. She allowed this much for possibility of continuity of her consciousness. And did I feel a faint shadow of her hovering near, remembering our days together? I like to think this is not my imagination.

I cannot begin this time's remembrance without tears. And yet I do not mind them. The bland life of no emotion is not the life for me. I am glad to be this sensitive. And now to the remembrance.

The first letter I sent off to Laura was filled with all the sweet naïveté that I had in me. Laura saved this letter in her book.

I sensed an openness in Laura's response, and I opened up in return. Soon I was getting 'downright flirtatious', in the choice of poems I sent her.

August 17, 2005
"Rereading Old Letters"

Laura rarely dated her letters, so I wrote the date they were received. I love the way she ended the letter I received January 10, 1987:

...I just wish I was 28, born female, and in this day and age. I think the world is there for you ... just reach out and pull it down to you. Don't let anyone ever mess with your mind ... it's clear, beautiful, and real. Write soon!

She was expressing the hope that the difference of age and of birth gender wasn't going to be an issue. Also, she was showing a genuine respect for my mind, which encouraged me to share more:

January 10, 1987
(Excerpt of a letter to Laura)

What can I say to reveal more of who I am? Perhaps I'll send this little book of my poetry I had printed up. The poems may illuminate some hidden facets.

I am a verb constantly changing, very much a dreamer, play many roles in my dreams, in my fantasies, upon the movie screen that is my mind. I don't want to stay there, in that imaginary world. I want to reach out and embrace life, people, dogs, kittens, the any that is all. Do all these abstractions tell you anything? I reach out and embrace you!

(Excerpt of a letter from Laura)

The abstractions tell me you are a beautiful island reaching out for something real and tangible, perhaps to reach another mind like yours to validate the reality you see so clearly. It is in the intimacy of mind and heart that the sea between the islands is made passible, and physical love added to that intimacy only makes romance ... although that too is a celebration of life.

Joan, I love you, I'm not in love with you although that would not be in any way objectionable ... but I love you. Your mind, your heart, your poems speak to me of depths and awareness and tingly sensations in my mind. Thank you for being my friend.


Laura was opening up, but still she did not reveal all her feelings, as the excerpt from her bio reveals:

Here is Laura's reaction, as written in her book:

"Joan did include a book of her poetry. Her poems touched places within my heart that I scarcely knew existed. It was as if these poems, written before we met, had been written exclusively for me. Joan and I shared a rare intimacy, an intimacy often sought, but rarely found, an intimacy that bridged the physical barriers separating our mortal minds. Our thoughts, our deepest feelings, our view of life merged and blended, not only as one, but as a growing oneness, a single flower blossoming from the meeting of two identical seeds falling upon rich fertile soil.

It was while reading her book of poetry that I realized I had fallen in love with her. With poems such as the following five, she seduced me as readily as ever woman seduced a woman. How could I not love her?"

Your Face

Your face,
Beautiful by reason of honesty,
Your eyes,
Bravely, gently, piercing,
Thy powerful interior light
Pierces the darkness.
I find my way to you.

~ ~~ ~~~ ~~ ~

Make Love to My Mind

Make love to my mind,
Hunger for its secrets
And my words will caress you,
Your hidden heart,
Your hidden . . .

~ ~~ ~~~ ~~ ~

To a woman
I speak,
Our common softness, our
Common strength
Leading to an uncommon
You, having found the path,
Trust your feet.

~ ~~ ~~~ ~~ ~

To A Woman I Wish I Knew

Tell me,
Oh tell me
On this night of poet's loneliness,
Almost solemn.
Oh tell me,
There is such a long path to your door,
Yet I hear laughter from there.
You do seem to enjoy life.
Tell me
What makes you small and awed,
Do you ever spend nights alone,
Do you like poetry,
And why is the path so long to
Your door?

~ ~~ ~~~ ~~ ~

I Saw Your Struggle

I saw your struggle,
You who would not be free.
I felt the fight fought within.
How I longed to loose your chains,
You could not know . . .
I loved from afar
No, you would not know
it was me who cared.
It's such a long distance from there

to here:
The barrier, your stern denial of need,
You are not willing to be freed.

These were all poems I'd written before I met Laura, sometime between 1978 and 1984, as I'd collected them into a little booklet I had printed up. To my surprise, she really understood them, and I felt the long isolation I'd felt begin to melt away with that understanding.

I risked ending the next letter with ''many tender little kisses!''

(Excerpt of a letter from Laura)

...Thank you for the hugs and tender little kisses. Wish I was there to catch them in person.
Hugs and Kisses to You, Much Love,

One of the sexy photos Laura sent me during our mail courtship

Our romancing grew aggressive, as we made love through our letters. And then I sent her a Valentine's card with my phone number shyly placed in the corner. Laura did take the bait and called. The first call we were both nervous. In the next letter I told her of my great shyness and hoped we could go beyond merely a literary romance. In our next call we were free and easy. Conversation flowed.

(Excerpt of a letter from Laura)
I love you you know. I might as well say it and hope you feel the same ... I don't mean that I just love you. I'm in love with you. I feel like you are me and that I am you ... that we are perfect together, that we belong together. How does that sound to you? I suppose it's not a fair question since we haven't met ... but I know you, your heart, your capacity to love ... and I love you, I love you, I love you...

And that was the beginning. Soon, she drove out to meet me, all the way from Arizona.

There was a rough passage as her estranged wife claimed she was going blind in one last bid to try and get Laura back. Laura went back out of duty, but was rapidly reminded of all the things that had created their estrangement. Laura knew where her heart lie, and soon was back to Illinois again.

The next time she came, she was a bit wiser, and flew. Then she drove (I could only ride, as the van was stick-shift) to Arizona, in a small U-Haul, carrying most of my possessions. I had my Aunt and Uncle sell the car and the piano.

The trip itself was thrilling. Laura quotes from my journal in her book.

April 17, 1987
3:29 AM

Laura just awoke and told me of a dream she'd had while sleeping. She was once again before the council of three. She noticed their eyes were golden. They told her that I had been given to her and that she had been given extra time. We would now have a shared mission. They wore the same white robes and golden girdles around their paps as they had in earlier dreams.

Now we are both wide awake and excited about our journey. This is the last night we shall spend in this place. Curiously, Laura said it almost felt like she was going to Arizona for the first time. It will all be new for her, too, for she will be seeing it through my eyes.. I will think of Joliet with fond memories. I have taken many pictures to help me remember people and places. The future awaits and I am eager.

I was glad to meet all of her family, who welcomed me warmly. They were all glad to see Laura happy at last. We spent a few months in Phoenix, but the bad pollution there was bothering her heart, so we made plans to move down to Tucson. By November 9th, I'd already spent a month in my new job. I would spent nine years at that alteration and repair division of a major cleaner chain in Tucson, until (did you guess it?) we would move again.

But that is getting ahead of myself. Right now, I want to remember all the sweet innocence of love in our earliest days, when, after the initial hurdle, we felt ourselves the most blessed of creatures to be so in love.


When I am yin,
You are yang.
When yang I am
Yin you are and fine:
Cycles endlessly.
The wheel spins,
Spokes we are
Of one another.

JAL - 1987

Twenty Nine
November 10 1987 - November 9, 1988

My first full size bike!

In late November, when the weather was cooler, Laura decided to teach me how to ride a bicycle. Although I'd never learned, Laura knew just how to give me confidence. We started on a child's bike, with 24" wheels, as opposed to standard 26" wheels. On this small bike, I felt safe, for at all times my feet could reach the ground. After I'd learned on that bike, we graduated up to the full size bike.

We went everywhere on our bikes. When the car we had crapped out, we rode to the grocery store, bookstore and mall. The world moved just a little slower on those times, enabling us to fully enjoy each other's company.

December 14, 1987

Laura is busy writing her autobiography. I take great pleasure in helping her edit it. I feel like I'm helping to coax the 'baby' along. It is so exciting as the book fleshes out and its personality becomes more apparent.

At breakfast one day, Laura and I were discussing psychic phenomenom. Laura gives little weight to such things. But she did confess a little amusement at one particular incident. Laura was a child when it happened, and she did not remember it. But when Laura began writing her autobiography, her Mother told her the tale.

One day her Mother Eleanor and her aunt Glenna took young Laura to a palm reader. The palmist told Eleanor her child would write one book, that it would be a very special book, and that it, among other things, would be a love story.

Our love is indeed one of the many features in this autobiography. It is a special book, one that I know will speak to many people. Not only is it an exciting adventure story, it also contains many deeper messages much needed in today's world.

Over time, Laura added new chapters to that book. But the most special to me will always be those two chapters of our early days.

next section, 30 to 33
Book Of Life Index
© Joan Ann Lansberry