Laura remembers some scenes from her early life.
- The sixties roared through my New Jersey suburban household and changed all of us forever. My father dropped out and moved to San Francisco to take acid and start an urban commune and my brother quit college and flew off to India, following his 14-year-old guru.
- When I was 15, I skipped 10th grade and snuck out to receive the divine Knowledge of my brother’s guru. Three years later, I moved into an ashram in downtown San Antonio called the City of Love and Light with a couple of hundred other lost, searching young people. I stayed in this safe container until I was 21 when I burst out to re-enter the “real world."
- After a few lost and lonely years, wandering from place to place, and never feeling at home, I moved to Santa Cruz and discovered a) that I loved communications and b) being on the radio, c) that I was a damn good writer, d) and that I had a rightful place in the world.
Laura Davis and Tom Schumann lived in the ashram together (COLL or City of Love and Light) in San Antonio, Texas in the mid-70s. Tom died of AIDS in the 80s sometime and Laura made a quilt panel for him as part of the AIDS Quilt Project (upper left corner of the attached panel). A program by a professor and SCAD - Atlanta has put together statements about people who made the panels, which you can hear on iTunes. Laura wrote this about Tom and her time in DLM:
Laura Davis made Tom Schumann’s panel. They were good friends long ago but have been separated by time and location. Laura and Tom didn’t meet in the normal way most friends do. They didn’t meet at coffee shops or at work or through mutual friends. Laura met Tom when she was 18 and joined a cult, the Divine Light Mission, based in San Antonio, Texas. She was new to the cult and Tom was a rebel. She remembers the first time Tom pulled a cigarette out of his pocket and she gasped as it was against ashram rules. But a week later she found herself smoking Shermans too. Laura was grateful for a friend and she and Tom grew close in this unusual environment. They broke rules together for a year, slowly loosening the grip of the Divine Light Mission. Laura loved Tom and credits him as the inspiration to move from adolescent fanaticism to healthy cynicism, and several months later to leave the Divine Light Mission altogether. When she saw an announcement years later that Tom died of AIDS, she felt compelled to create a panel in his memory, having considered him a dear friend ever since they first met. She writes: [w]e lived in different parts of the country ever since, but I never stopped loving Tom, in the way you love someone who moved you along at a crucial moment."