Alma Beck and Eve Wiseman

Recorded September 30, 2006 Archived September 30, 2006 23:51 minutes
0:00 / 0:00
Id: MBY002095

Description

Eve and Alma talk about how it took 30 years before they became partners.

Subject Log / Time Code

Alma felt like they were soulmates from the very beginning.
Now that they are together, it feels like a fairy tale.

Participants

  • Alma Beck
  • Eve Wiseman

Transcript

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00:04 I'm fixing to write 52, right?

00:09 My name is Alma Beck. I'm 52. Today is September 30th. We are in Little Rock Arkansas, and I am Eve's partner and spouse.

00:23 A my name is Eve Wiseman. I'm also 52 today's date is September 30th, 2006 and Little Rock, Arkansas and almost partner and spouse.

00:36 And the Earth story starts Way Back in 1970.

00:42 When I'm going to call you during this, I thought I had all my crying done and so we practiced but when we met his Juniors at Lafayette High School in Lexington, Kentucky.

00:55 And we were soulmates right from the very beginning.

01:00 To such an extent that even though both of us were pretty academic we skip school couple times and Senior year just so we could spend the day together. It's always a good girl. So that was a big surprise to my parents and they found out that we've done that.

01:15 I was a good Catholic girl, though.

01:19 So

01:21 My attraction to you was a big problem for me. In fact them my church taught me that even being attracted to other women was as they put it in orientation to evil. So I took that part of myself and I stuck it in a box with the lid tightly on and buried it really deeply inside.

01:46 And meanwhile I was so that's nerdy Jewish kid who is being raised by liberal Unitarian parents who moved away from Judaism because it was too conservative. But even from of them I picked up the culture is homophobic attitudes, so I didn't face my own sexual orientation until I was in my late twenties.

02:05 As a result, even though we had this deep friendship and a strong attraction to one another a relationship stay platonic.

02:17 I guess it was at the end of college was the last time we saw one another.

02:24 I hear that you were at my wedding in 1976, but I have absolutely no memory of seeing you there. And that's all I don't think that was a psychiatrist. I don't think that was what I would call 40 and repression because to tell the truth, so I was sitting in the last few of your wedding all the very back of the big old church with my nerdy Jewish boyfriend. We got out of there as soon as we possibly could wish I had seen you then one last time cuz we never saw each other after that point for probably 30 years go through that but we did stay in touch with intermittent cards and letters and such and I've got to

03:08 Birthday card that I received from you in 1981. So I was 27 / 27. I'm going to read this poem that you wrote on the card. It's a very nice handmade card drawings and writing on it. And then when I first read me parts of that over the phone 30 years later I said what I did write that that would be what I would call and repression will get those parts on your card. You wrote this birthday greeting comes from a friend the one who seldom writes and its scale the highest mountain to send that even though I'm afraid of heights.

03:46 Birthdays is traditional to give the ones you love a little gift on this your 27th birthday the miles between us and tradition adrift. I know that it's not proper way not to thing to do. But today I've been thinking instead of the gift. I've gotten from you you giving me your friendship a precious gift to hold more valuable than diamonds rarer than solid gold. I know you said you're a picture of a wedding ring there.

04:14 It's gotten me through hard times, even when you're not at my side, it's giving me strength when I've needed it to flow with the tide. Some friendships are based on fun shared by classmates together at school that when miles come between the friends the relationship inevitably cool. Although you wrote in evidently.

04:35 Our friendship must be of a different kind of thing that you said it that way. I find my love for you still strong. Although many miles separate us and the time between letters as long I still secretly Harbor the hope that someday you live next door and instead of just infrequent lover letters our relationship can again be more tell them. I have my memories of the grass on the Lafayette lawn a skipping school and talking Spanish and at Value Village now gone, which is where I worked when I was in high school Lafayette was our high school.

05:08 There's something else that I have something. I don't know. It's name. It's here. It's now it's from the past. But yet it's still the same. It's something quite a logical. It lets me feel close to you. I have a feeling it will always exist. Even though our visits hurt you somehow. I know you'll never be a good friend from the past. My best friend is Doctor Eve now. That's the truth that will last find love always, and that was my wear 27.

05:38 Well, I don't remember sending that card.

05:42 But then in 1989 I sent you another letter.

05:49 Rites of Alexa read whole bunch from this letter, but just enough so that you get the flavor of it and we have to remember that almost started out as a good Catholic girl conservative Catholic girl 1989 January, I believe 1989 from Alma. I'm amazed at the type of person. I've become I've become quite liberal. I was going to vote for Jesse Jackson, but couldn't figure out how to write in a candidate on the ballot. I wrote reluctantly settled for Dukakis.

06:24 My three favorite heroes or heroines would be gone T Martin Luther King Jr. Mother Teresa family demands. Keep me from being an activist right now. But someday I'd like to be out there championing the causes of peace and Justice. I also like gardening.

06:42 So what happens to you? What's what has happened to you these past 10 or so years. What do you enjoy outside of school? Do you still play your guitar with David? That was almost youngest is sick. He's had lots of ear infections. He loves 4 meter to rock him and sing The Rocking Horse, which is a song that I wrote when I was in college. It's his favorite song.

07:09 Well, is he over the years? I've lost a verse though, I think and then she quotes what she remembers then and she asked what did I leave out seeing what seems like there's the line from the song his back is bent his life is spent but I can't remember the rest. If you could send me a complete copy of the words, I sure would enjoy it. That song has become a very special to me it kind of ties together to wonderful parts of my life our friendship and the time we've had together and warm quiet times with my boys had four boys by that time David, of course, it was just a baby is the youngest but that was as wonderful to have that song that's like bringing you into my life, even though you are miles away and years apart. You're still a part of my life to that Rocking Horse song.

07:59 So I sent off that letter and then two months later I get a letter back from you. That's very interesting.

08:10 In March of 89 it says Dear Alma. It was a real treat to get your letter of January 5th. I guess I took two months to answer because it was deciding whether to tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth when you wrote that you were quite liberal and settled for Dukakis and Lewis Jackson. I hoped you were giving me the message of acceptance. You're pretty shrewd cookie, and I wondered if you guessed I was a lesbian and then you wrote sometime and crossed it out in parentheses. I made a mistake because coming out is forever hard during our off again on again correspondence.

08:48 Remember, I remember I remember saying once our friendship in high school was more like a boyfriend-girlfriend relationship. You may not remember, but I certainly do and no I don't remember ever saying

09:04 Still reading you wrote your the last of the High School Lunch Bunch. I've come out to because you're the most precious to me and would be the hardest to lose.

09:18 So I'm wondering what you're thinking my wish would be that you only wanted me to have told you sooner. My fear is you're a conservative Catholic at heart liberal politics aside. So you'll throw away this letter and discuss and I'll never hear from you again and you'd written elsewhere in this letter about other friends Who You'd lost forever once you came out to them.

09:42 Well, that's all I want to say on my lesbianism for now. I'll try to answer whatever questions you have. If you care to ask any I wouldn't be taking the risk of finally telling you this and the very real risk of adding you to my lost list. If I didn't want to re-establish an honest friendship, you are my first close friend, and yes, I probably was in love with you.

10:07 Whether you choose to stay with me or not. I hope you know that our friendship was and is very important to me love Eve.

10:17 I thought it was in March and if the kind of remember that we had sometimes 10 years between letters. And so I think that one's what day does March 7th, right? Okay. So on March 10th, I got a response from home. I already purchased that must have been the fastest turnaround for letters and our entire writing history and so stated March 10th. 1989 says dear wonderful Eve.

10:42 The rest of the day's mail is waiting on the couch to be read. I opened your letter first. Of course, I have such a bad habit of procrastinating but I was afraid if I didn't write write the second it would be delayed. I don't want you to wait one minute longer than necessary to find out that I have always loved you and always will frankly. I did not guess that you were lesbian. It's funny how this all fits together with other things in my life. Actually don't think it's funny. I think it's all the work of God. See I feel embarrassed talking about spiritual things with you. Will you still like me if I'm one of those Jesus God freaks you see I've been doing some real soul-searching lately about homosexuality as I tell my Discussion Group at church as I told my Discussion Group at church last Sunday. I've come to the conclusion that there is no moral difference between loving a man or loving a woman. So you see I was ready for your letter.

11:37 I don't know how I would have reacted several years ago. I'm sure I would have accepted you. But now I don't feel there was anything to accept you found your partner. I found my husband. The only difference is that my lifestyle is easier since Society accepts it I'm sorry for the pain that the world and flex on you and your partner because of your love for each other.

12:00 And they were going to skip fixes another interesting part of this letter.

12:04 And you say I do have one question for you? Do you call yourself a lesbian? Because you were in a love relationship with another woman or because of an inter attraction for females that's an integral integral part of you. The reason I ask is because I haven't still completely worked out this homo hetero sexual issue yet. I don't think that being a heterosexual is an integral part of me. This is very interesting, but I thought as I was reading this because it was back in 1989 and I would have sworn at that point. I was still very sure I was heterosexual that lid I thought was tightly on and all my continued. I don't think that my love for my husband is any different than my than my love for you was another interesting times except for the fact that I wanted to have kids. I think that my relationship with my husband would be the same.

13:04 If you were a woman, I'm beginning to wonder if heterosexuality is just a result of society's conditioning if you and I had been opposite sex's would we have recognized our feelings for each other made my eyebrows raised as I was reading this as sexual rather than friendship love is any of this making sense? I guess I'm wondering if we're not all bisexuals and I just talked to ignore feelings for our own sex. If your partner were a woman would your feelings for her change that lid was coming off my box, even if I wasn't conscious of it?

13:41 So we stayed in contact even after that letter they went back to being fairly and frequent letters eventually switch to email a Google dude and found your work email through some professional articles you'd written in journals. And then you gave me your home email and we switch the emails after that and each of us have been over the years saving one another's letters which is why we have them to read from now not knowing that the other one was doing the same thing. I find it interesting that we passed up several opportunities to visit one another I think on some level we knew that we just couldn't handle seeing one another.

14:28 Course in the ensuing years. I left the Catholic church and eventually became an Episcopal priest.

14:40 And

14:42 Then in 2003 Our Lives took an interesting turn right on the February 20th of 2003 my partner of 20 years and that was on the same day that you were granted a divorce from your husband of 26 years and that's what shift into a different psychologist or psychiatrist from Troy. That's why young would call synchronicity is some kind of strange magic that we had such a powerful transition on the same date.

15:17 And so less than six weeks after this moment of State for both of us on April 8th, 2003. You wrote me a letter.

15:29 And it starts out Dear Eve. I was searching my files for an insurance paper when I took a detour and read some of your letters from years past. I had to read the right one for 1989 several times you wrote. I wondered if you guess I was a lesbian sometime crossed out saying you made a mistake because coming out is forever hard.

15:51 I had to smile right side, I know just what you mean. It's taken me 30 plus years and good therapist for me to even come out to myself. I open that closet two weeks ago. It took not only folks like you and your partner to pay the path but also several years of working with others braver than I reassuring them that God loves them a couple of weeks ago a young woman came to talk and I spent an hour telling her that she was normal and that God delighted in her sexuality and that her love for her girlfriend was a gift to the world no matter what the world thought. I guess. I must have finally spoken loud enough to to drown out my own homophobia because the next day and therapy I said I said I'm gay and what a relief I felt it's been a rollercoaster of emotion since them inside. I'm dancing it's as if a tremendous load has been removed for me, but that alternates with grief part of me doesn't want this gift half the churches are

16:51 Actually close to women rector's just for being women. Now 90% of the wreck of the rest are probably close to me too because of being lesbian. I won't stay in the closet. I've been there far too long already.

17:05 That was quite a time and you know, to be honest when I sent that letter to you. I was just as afraid that you would reject me. I was afraid you'd say well being a little late for this isn't it? I wanted you 30 years ago and you were too afraid to come out with your love for me then too late now, but you didn't instead you sent me that wonderful card that said neither you make those wonderful collage cards and it had this funny clown popping out of a head of a Jack In The Box and it said Bravo for Alma Brave resilient Alma Ventures out.

18:02 And then on Memorial Day you sent me an email and said actually Before Memorial day, but sit on the memorial day you were going to be in Lexington back in our hometown, which was just two and a half hours from where I was living and working and you said, you know, would you like to come join me for the weekend? I'm going to be there in town and I jumped at the chance to finally see you once again.

18:27 Memorial Day was a fitting holiday. Wasn't it to each other again after all that time?

18:34 And I don't think that either of us were potting or planning to have a relationship another relationship. And so just remember that we had just finished going through a painful divorce and painful dying year, but it was a powerful experience seeing you again after all that time and at one point as we were meeting you said something early on in our visit. You said something to the effect of you are even more beautiful than you were before. I had resolved that I was just it was I had decided I was going to be single the rest of my life. I had simply made that decision and I planned on my relationship with you being platonic.

19:25 Which of course that weekend was we both managed to keep our feelings and check that weekend. Even though we discovered later that each of us was finding out that those

19:40 Flames of Love from high school or still very much there.

19:46 I guess it was the next day after we went home the email started flying.

19:52 And then we both admitted to the other house stunned and surprised we were at those feelings.

20:02 I think I

20:04 Actually, I think you were the first one to say would you be interested in exploring moving our relationship to the next level?

20:13 Even though I think we both knew her from the the past your pastor role or Priestly perspective in the psychiatric perspective that after you have a major life change like a loss of a significant other or a divorce that you're supposed to wait for 6 months or something before we talked about the one-year rule r i don't make any decisions but we decided that we'd waited 30 years and then we just were not going to wait any longer.

20:44 And then we went ahead and then defend our relationship and in September of 2003, moved here to Little Rock to live with me. And so we've been together for about three and a half years now and the way I kind of Envision it was a nice metaphor is if you think about how I heart is drawn and all you have that little indication indentation at the top or the two lines meet and that's kind of where we were in high school and that way if you follow each half of the heart several is though it's as though we had two of those intervening 30 plus years go on our own paths and then develop our own strengths and their own his history through her stories and then meet again at the bottom of that heart 30 years later to kind of close the loop, but I like even more of the fact that we're back together again down at that point.

21:43 Neither the state nor our church would recognize our relationship of course, but we knew that got it already blasted and blessed us. So we wrote our own ceremony incorporating some Hebrew into it because you've been studying biblical Hebrews ever since your dad died trying to get back in touch with your Jewish Heritage and on January 24th of 2004. We invited friends and family together in our home where we publicly exchanged the valves, but we'd already made to each other several months earlier.

22:22 And our friends and family prayed God's blessing on us as a very special time to me me to a little bit. I do have to say just to clarify hear that one almost said something about our church. That's really her church or that I've never been to no organized religious person that I do have to say that our commitment ceremony was very meaningful.

22:47 When we were planning out this whole story of ours and how to tell it.

22:53 I tried to think of a good way to end it.

22:58 I've never been able to think of way and I realized why because the story isn't over yet.

23:06 I feel like we're living right in the middle of a fairy tale.

23:14 The whole bit about happily ever after that's not supposed to happen in real life. That's a that's a pretend part of store and yet here we are still in the happily Ever After part and it's three years and going strong.

23:36 And I just don't want it to ever end.

23:40 That's truly are her story in the making as it were.