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Beyond the Glass Rainbow

LAURA

It began in 1967 -- my second year in college, when Kate and I became good friends. We were on the verge of womanhood, from backgrounds as divergent as our personalities. We had no idea what we were destined for, but we were looking for the things all women of the late 1960's wanted -- love, a family, a career -- the whole lollipop.

I was a dancer, and since ballet dancers who are 5'10" in their slippers aren't too common, the Junior College Dance Department had difficulty finding a Romeo to make my Juliet believable. That's how I met Allan Reeves -- destiny had arrived, in skin-tight jeans and sky-blue eyes.

Kate and I were virgins, and eager to remedy that situation. That same spring Kate met Ted, a Lighting Director for the University Theatre Arts Department, but Allan and I beat them to bed. We became lovers almost immediately, rushing headlong into what seemed to be a storybook romance. Allan was the most sophisticated of our group -- he lived alone and had extensive experience as a lover.

Allan's past held a frightening secret, however -- one I didn't discover until I was already in love with him. Kate knew, but despite her attempts to make Allan tell me about his sexual history, I discovered the truth by accident.

I left him, of course. I mean, what self-respecting girl would want a man who'd had male lovers? I hadn't counted on his determination, and he finally broke down my resistance. He seemed to love me so much that I allowed the issues of his past to fade into the background.

Our final two years of college, Allan lived in San Francisco. By the time we graduated, we were engaged to be married, and I moved into Allan's apartment. We were all on the road to our chosen careers -- a long, hard climb. I was studying to be a film historian, hopefully for a large studio; Kate was in pursuit of her own business as a financial consultant; Allan had three years of law school ahead of him, Teddy four years of medical school. I went to work full-time, as an Administrative Assistant for FilmMarin. We had decided that I would return to college for my Master's Degree when Allan completed his law degree. We were supremely happy, unaware our bliss would be short-lived.

During Allan's second year at Hastings I began to feel vaguely uneasy. I had a short affair with an Irish revolutionary, also a student at Hastings, that left me feeling even more confused. I knew I loved Allan, but I wasn't certain his choice of lifestyle was what I wanted. I lost my job at FilmMarin and spent approximately nine months unemployed. Allan became increasingly critical of me, and I started to gain weight. My appearance, which had always been important to me, suddenly seemed not worth bothering over. Nothing did. But the wedding, which had never meant that much to me before, suddenly took on momentous importance. As Allan's interest waned, mine accelerated.

During Allan's last year at Hastings, my energy returned. I took a job with Videowest, an innovative independent video production company. The semester he was due to graduate, I began work on a Master's Degree in Broadcast Communications. We were to be wed that August.

In January of 1972 we began to have serious problems. Allan was drinking heavily and had seemingly become impotent, or possibly just disinterested. A month before his graduation, he told me the truth -- he had been prowling the gay bars in the Castro District. After all our years together, his homosexual drives had returned.

I left him three days later and moved in with a girlfriend. After a desperate suicide attempt, my life began to repair itself, like a wound forming a scab. The scar would always be there, but the bleeding would stop. Allan's recovery wasn't so quick, nor was it final. He suffered a nervous breakdown and was hospitalized, temporarily paralyzed from the waist down.

Kate and Ted were married that fall. I was one of her bridesmaids, and Allan attended the wedding. It was too soon for me -- I didn't see Kate much in the year after the wedding; she was too happy and I was too miserable. But, to my surprise, life went on -- and even got better. I finished my Master's Degree, moved to Santa Monica and went to work for Warner Brothers.

Kate and I remained friends, and whenever she was too fed up with Ted or her business, she would come down and visit me for the weekend. It was while I was working on a film about the life of John Lennon that I met Robert Morehead, the actor who played Paul McCartney. That was in 1973. I married him in 1974, just before he started filming his first leading role in a remake of San Francisco.

News of Allan came to me through Kate, and occasionally through the bay area newspapers. He had gone on to become a corporate lawyer, and an active gay rights advocate.

In 1975, Kate became pregnant. Robert and I went to San Francisco for the premiere of the film, where the city of the 1880's had been recreated at the waterfront during the filming, and preserved for the premiere. It was at the film premiere that I saw Allan for the last time. He was 28. He looked ten years older, downed scotch like it was water, and was accompanied by a boy who was not more than 18, and I'm being generous. Our confrontation was brutal. Allan's bitterness was too evident, my satisfaction and smugness unkind. I had no love left for him, but my revenge had been too complete. Allan was a broken man.

KATE

I met Ted, Laura and Allan my first year at college. I wanted Ted from the beginning, and had little difficulty attaching him to my circle. Everyone thought Ted was a great catch because he was a promising medical student. But when Laura and Allan got together, you could have knocked me over with a feather boa. I knew he was gay.

Positive as I was that it couldn't last, I was wrong. The only wobble was when Laura found out about Allan's sexual preferences. This taught me something, and I bared the facts of my own grievous past to Ted. At the advanced age of 18, I had an amazing lot to tell. A long list of crimes committed against me, the sort of shameful thing that made me positive no decent man would ever want me. Ted wanted me anyway, much to my surprise.

Bliss was mine until I discovered a little more about what Ted wanted. Namely an `open' relationship, the sort of thing that was so popular in the seventies. After a long struggle in which I tried to force him into a more conventional arrangement, I capitulated. I did this publicly, at a party we both attended. While he dallied with a female friend, I wandered off with an aging Lothario. Ted didn't talk to me for months, not in the least liking a taste of his own medicine.

By the time he sought me out again, I'd found a job in San Francisco and was attending graduate school. We achieved a compromise. There would be no more embarrassing public scenes. When we were together, no one else existed for either of us. This seemed to work as we attended separate schools. At least we were able to salvage my pride. Ted was a medical student; I an economist. We saw each other as often as possible, but that left plenty of time for `extracurricular' activities. Ted was constant in three things; his love for me, his studies, and his unflagging pursuit of sexual encounters. I preferred not to engage in sex as a casual sport.

Soon, I had my Master's Degree, and I was promoted from a lower-class flunky at the financial consulting firm I worked for, to an upper-class flunky with my own office. The resultant raise in my wages caused Ted some odd twinges of masculine pride. This annoyed me, as my feminine pride, my belief in my ability to hold a man, had been taking a beating for years. It seemed to me that, since I could now support us both, we could stop all this playing around and move in together. I thought it was time to make a stronger commitment.

An old friend appeared in our lives at this point. He tried to counsel us and ended up as Ted's best friend and my lover. The poor fool; between us we gave him quite a seesaw ride. I was trying to use him to make Ted jealous. My nefarious scheme backfired, and I began to wonder if I were in love with the wrong man. We sorted it all out, though, and Ted and I got married after he graduated. He is a very stable and faithful husband. Some young men just must sow their wild oats.

I was as shocked when Laura and Allan broke up as I had been when they got together. Ted and I were really hurt; we loved Allan, but his behavior was shabby at best. As feminist issues surfaced for me, I was furious at Allan for letting Laura put him through law school and then not supporting her while she got her Master's. We didn't see him much, after that. Nor do we see a lot of Laura, but for entirely different reasons. Her life is so full and busy.

Our careers are flourishing, and we have dreams of saving the world in our different ways. Ted is on one of the medical research teams at Berkeley, and I've opened my own offices there as a financial consultant. I like working with small firms and ordinary people with ordinary problems; not that I ever met any, there is no such thing as an ordinary person, at least not in Berkeley or Oakland. We have two kids, a home with `character' and each other. We are the most faithful and happy couple I know. I suspect we're guilty of being a little smug.