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

November 10 1988 - November 9, 1989

The journal entries were increasingly sporadic. The last one is on October 15, 1988. Mostly, they were concerned with Laura's hormone experimentation, and wondering if I could get pregnant if Laura stayed off them long enough. By the beginning of my thirtieth year, we'd decided that her body had sustained too many changes to ever be virile in that manner.

With no journal entries, the only cue I have to placing events is by what house we lived in at that time. In all my fifteen years with Laura, we moved ALOT, so this method sorts the event out to a two or three year span.

However, during my early years with Laura, I did not know this would be the pattern. I imagined myself growing old in that one bedroom mobile home we owned then. Actually, we did spend more years at this dwelling than any of the others. Four years was the max.

I know this is leaping ahead in time, but I need this chart if I am to place anything correctly on the timeline:

How We Have Moved!

April 87 - September 87 - Phoenix, McDowell Rd mobile home
87- 91 - Tucson, Romero Rd mobile home
91 - two weeks in Tempe, Arizona, apartment
91 - June? 93 - Tucson, Yavapai Rd. apartment
June ? 93 - April 95 - Tucson, Mission St. condo
April 95 - June 96 - North of Tucson, Catalina doublewide
June 96 - July 00 - Casa Grande, Azalia St. doublewide
July 00 - December 01 - Casa Grande, Camino Grande Rd. mobile home
December 01 - May 13 - Yuma apartment
May 13 to present - singlewide

What I did not know then was Laura thrived on change, and would get bored with stasis if it continued for very long. It might have been stressful at times, but Laura had a way of keeping our lives exciting!

Laura introduced many things to me during our years together. One of them was the computer. She dragged an Epson computer all the way from Phoenix to Joliet, Illinois, and then back again. My first reaction was less than enthusiastic. ''What would I ever do with one of THOSE?'' I replied almost haughtily. By summer of our first year together, I'd already discovered the ease of the Word Perfect program for writing letters, and from that point on, I was hooked. Back in the early days, there was no web, but there were local Bulletin Board Services which we went up on to discuss things with local folks.

Laura, being the pioneer that she was, engineered having one ourselves. We had to have an extra phone line, dedicated to receive the incoming calls. ''The Wild Banana'' was a pretty lively board. Laura named it that, because that had been the name she'd chosen for a Mensa (or was it Intertel) bulletin she edited, as a joke on someone named Anna.

There were a few other BBSs on which we were active. Laura loved to sharpen her debating claws on the Christians who visited the boards. I don't know as she opened any of their minds. One was quite frightened of her nonetheless, and she was much amused when he left Tucson for New Mexico, believing Laura had sent demons to his house. She couldn't figure out why he was certain she'd done that. As she said in 'The Book', ''Jeez, if I could order demons around, assuming the reality of such creatures, I would have better things for them to do then to haunt a Christian Fundamentalist.'' But people have a lot of reasons for their irrational beliefs.

Although there were the few dissenters, most fellow BBSers were glad to have her livening a board up. Without Laura, the discussion boards were often very quiet.

We met some of the BBSers, and became friends with them. Shortly after we met one couple, however, the husband soon took his life. He'd suffered from a debilitating back ailment and perhaps there was no relief for the pain. Depression, too, mostly likely provided the greater pain, as the disability might have made him feel worthless. Laura became a close friend of Nancy, and rode her bike often to Nancy's house, a fifteen mile trip, to cheer her up.

Laura felt good, being able to help her friend. That's one thing about Laura, she needed to be needed. Throughout our years together, we came into close association with a great variety of people she tried to help.

That was Laura, large of heart. Throughout this tale of years, you may meet a few of those people, as seen through my eyes. But I leave THAT for another day.

June 23, 2004
November 10 1989 - November 9, 1990

One thing I can place easily in this time slot is the legal changing of my name from Horschler to Lansberry. Once when I was shopping with Laura and her Mother, I signed a check 'Horsberry' Other than that, I remembered to sign correctly.

There was a bit of fuss at work because I was required to show the people in the payroll office the legal document in order to change my W2 forms. Mouths must have been wagging for weeks. Ah, amusement of the 'muggles' is so easily achieved.

Nevertheless, I was quite proud to now share the Lansberry name with Laura.

Regarding other things of reasonable time slot certainty, we now had a vehicle again. It was one I was initially squeamish about. Remember the friend I told you about that had committed suicide? It was the vehicle in which he did it. Laura describes the details in her book, ''He did it by running a hose from the exhaust pipe to the window of their pickup while parked in their closed garage. He managed to finish three beers from a six pack before falling asleep. When Nancy came home from shopping he was slumped over in the front seat still breathing, but he died shortly after the paramedics arrived.''

I was creeped out about being in this navy blue truck in which a man took his life. Okay, he might have actually died after the paramedics got him out, but that is a minor variance of detail. However, we obtained it for a reasonable price and it did run good. I soon got used to having motorized transportation, despite the truck's history.

Thirty Two
November 10 1990 - November 9, 1991

There are a lot of changes I can place in this time frame. Laura was confident I could learn how to drive a stick shift, which is what the blue truck had. Around and around, we went, while Laura coaxed and prodded and yelled. I wasn't getting it. It was entirely too much to concentrate upon both the traffic conditions and management of that shifting pole.

I stalled us out constantly. When Laura screamed, ''You're going to destroy the clutch!'' I got out of the truck, and told her firmly, ''YOU DRIVE!'' I never again made another attempt in that truck.

I can't remember when we exchanged that car for another. Julia vaguely remembers a beat up Ford we had on her first visit in 1993. That might have the old gray Ford Escort that Laura had originally driven across the states to visit me back in 1987. I seem to remember her son Anton had it for a while, but when he went into the Air Force, he loaned it to us.

For some reason, Laura grew restless and bored with Tucson. It wasn't exciting enough for her. She remembered all the immensity of things the Phoenix megloplex offered her in her younger days. She wanted us to be near it. The college town of Tempe enticed her, and we sold the mobile home, and moved into an apartment.

The walls were really thin in these apartments. The first couple of days, we were audience to a couple 'in the act of It'. The woman was a screamer. ''Yes, yes, give it me, big boy, OOOOHHH, yess, give it to me!'' She screamed. When she finally climaxed with a great and mighty scream, I felt like applauding. I know some like this sort of theatrics, and it's okay if they do, but I can't see where anything beyond the natural release of musical sighing is necessary.

Oh, my, I wonder what my repressed Gramma would have thought upon hearing that auditory display. To her, sex was something men enjoyed that women had to endure. Yes, she said as much. Yes, she never, ever ...

... this is a digression. Where I to place it correctly, you would find it in my 20th year remembrances. I'd read of mysterious things in the ladies magazine Cosmopolitan. The dorm's resident adviser was able to elucidate them somewhat, for she was a nursing student, and got out her anatomy book, and I was soon looking at a detailed drawing.

She advised experimentation, which proved successful. So even without Laura, I would not have been an uneducated prude upon hearing that woman's great noise. Yet it both shocked and amused me nonetheless.

In the multi-city multiplexity that makes up the breath of the 'Phoenix' cluster, I got a job with amazing speed. Two days there, and I was hired. But there was a problem growing. Laura found to her frustration and dismay the air in Tempe was too polluted. She thought away from the central part of Phoenix, the pollution would be dispersed enough for her comfort. It wasn't, and she couldn't breathe easily.

So two weeks after arriving, we were moving back to Tucson. Of course, my job still was there, and it became almost a dream that we were ever gone.

One thing that I learned while at the Tempe alteration shop is the usefulness of tying my long hair back with a braided cord. The manager there no doubt observed me throwing hair out of my face several times, and thought this would improve my speed. This shop featured the very best of equipment, including industrial sergers (edge finishers) set into big tables and energized by huge motors, and a chopping device much like a guillotine used to cut pants hems.

Back home at my old job, I had to 'humble' myself for small home-style sergers and pinking shears. Laura may have felt crestfallen, but I was glad to be back in familiar places. In the four years in Tucson, we'd acquired many memories there, and I liked being in the place where we'd acquired them.

We soon added to the memory storage in a very special way. Laura wrote in her book:

Tucson itself gave us a sign. If one believes in such things. Hard as it is for me I do, at times, believe in signs, and I believe in the one that happened to us. It was a sign that even a jaded skeptic such as me can not entirely put from mind, a sign so extraordinary that the memory gives me a pleasant warm glow to recall.

It began when Joan and I were driving down I-10, somewhere close to mile marker 231. We were talking, small talk to make light of a long drive, and unexpectedly a most miraculous event took place, something that surely must be one of the most unique experiences two human beings have ever been privileged to experience.

When we arrived home I insisted that Joan and I both write our impressions of the event, recording the event for all time:

Joan's version:
July 4th, 1991

We have had a most magical night. While heading back home from visiting Laura's mother we saw a rainbow. That is magical enough in itself. But this was no ordinary rainbow. We saw where the rainbow touched down on one end, making the trees rainbow-hued. Then as we approached, we saw both ends of the rainbow at the same time, each coloring the ground on either side of the highway.

As we drove on, the ends got closer and closer together until our car was inside them. Laura saw something even more magical than I. She saw the two ends come together and make a complete circle. This was only for a brief second. Then we both saw the two ends of the rainbow enter the car, filling it with a golden light. It was beautiful beyond all description.

Laura, the stern skeptic, lost that sternness for awhile in the beauty of what she saw:

Laura's version:

July 4, 1991 Thursday, the same day of the week as on July 4th 1776. It is 6:30 PM as I begin this writing. Joan and I had been driving along I-10, returning from a visit to Goodyear. We stopped at a convenience store at Picacho Peak about 5 PM. We left there at approximately 5:30. At mile marker 231 we noticed a storm gathering over Tucson ahead of us. A light rain began to the left and in front of us, a drizzle really, and to the right and behind us the sun was shining brightly and there was no rain at all. In front of us I saw a bright rainbow that passed over the road from left to right. A lighter rainbow was behind the bright one. Very dim and distant. It occurred to me that we would be driving through the arc of a rainbow and what a marvelous thing that would be.

I was behind the wheel and as I drove the rainbow kept getting bigger and brighter and in less than a minute I noticed that the trees and landscape on both sides of the road were illuminated by the ends of the rainbow. We could see both ends of the rainbow at the same time. It was marvelous! As I drove on the rainbow seemed to rush down upon us and the ends kept coming closer and closer together. As we continued the ends closed directly in front of the car and then, for one glorious second, a heartbeat and no more, I saw the rainbow lift and hang suspended, an unimaginably astounding rainbow ring suspended elliptically above me. The ring, with all its colors, was suspended in the air directly above the hood of the car. The highest portion of the ring was far overhead, up and away. Almost in the same moment the rainbow formed in front of us that magnificent ring entered the car, illuminating for a brief moment both Joan and me in hues of yellow, orange, and gold.

I felt a tingling through my entire body, not a euphoric feeling as if from some emotional reaction to the experience, but rather a feeling as if some form of energy was infusing my body. With the passing of the rainbow Joan affirmed a feeling of having been blessed, especially selected to see this wondrous sight. I too felt as though something beyond human experience had taken place, that we had been given a sign by fate, by destiny, or by deity.

Was it a sign? Or like the aurora borealis was it but a natural phenomenon, rarely seen and less rarely reported? It is my fondest hope that this magical event was indeed a sign, a sign telling this weary warrior that her battles have not been in vain, that my life has had meaning and purpose.

The skeptic in her still allowed that this was 'a silly notion perhaps', but nonetheless, it was an exquisitely beautiful experience. For awhile, her book ended with this tale, until she added new chapters, and I shall end this year's remembrance here as well.

next section, 33 to 36
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© Joan Ann Lansberry