|Summer 1971: A Novel by Sir Walter Scott and Getz / Gilberto
At her old rooming house in the University District a large sign announced it was scheduled to be removed. It would be replaced by a larger B'nai Brith Hillel Foundation, the one-story brick space next door. Laura was already aware of how a blue area of empty sky, light and a surprizingly small amount of rubble was left from any removed structure that had seemed so solid. Empty sky, light and rubble was all that was left when a building was removed, a building was solid like a chocolate rabbit, with so much space inside.
From the alley she could see a bracket outside a third floor window that must have been hers. It was a large substantial bracket supporting a little roof over the dormer window. She learned the word bracket renting in the 1980's, she did not think about the bracket when she was a student.
One evening the sound of a very large party carried up to the third floor of the rooming house from the one-story brick B'nai Brith Hillel Foundation next door. She wondered at times if they heard her stereo from the third floor. Once in the twenty-first century Laura Jensen put her bossa nova records on the stereo and noticed they had become very old records. Because the records were so old, Laura realized the memory of the tree-tops on the campus, which was a luminous, green, memory, was very long ago, and old.
Laura could look down through a basement window. Snuggled into its same familiar corner was the old formica table top, the same curved metal table legs from thirty years before. The same downstairs kitchen cupboards were shut above the same countertop.
Because the residents were serious students, the work of the house was reading, When a house was taken down, of course, it was as though it had never been. The tangible thing was gone. Laura Jensen knew she could never prove that anything had happened there. She could wish to prove she had read a page, or read a page again. No one could see reading happening, no one knew whether any of the work of the house had ever been done. Reading was not tangible.
In one of the photographs taken by her father's brother, Jens, at the Moors Club just two blocks closer to the University in 1923, is Bosworth on a couch outside a porch window. A thin frame in a dark suit, Bosworth lies down with an arm across his face, a large open book in his lap.
In the beauty of June, 1971, Laura Jensen sat in Physical Anthropology in a lecture hall on the quad, up steep steps to the old brown theater seats made of wood. The lecturer verged into an experience that Laura had before: The Beagle, a diary by Darwin about his trip to South America. Darwin, the Argentine, the bolos, the riders on the plain. Then the lecturer described how herding people used milk as a cash crop and never consumed it, which led to a development of dairy intolerance as an adult human trait. Laura Jensen could understand an idea like this right away because earlier science courses had described Darwin and his theory.
She had read passages from the small interesting volume, easy to gaze into and attractive. When Laura Jensen bought her autumn quarter books, one was The Heart of Midlothian, by Sir Walter Scott. This book dealt with a character percieved to be pregnant - and a law that required that, as proof that she had not murdered it, such a woman had to display a child.
In the warm summer classroom the lectures on projections of crowding and lowered standards of living toward the end of the twentieth century developed partly from The Population Bomb. Over all the years Laura Jensen remembered a moment in the classroom - there in the warm light from the window in old rows of brown wood theater seats it truly dawned on her that no one was obligated to reproduce. Her own work could occupy her all her life long. By the twenty-first century Laura Jensen achieved that lifetime goal, she had remained a non-parent throughout her life.
She remembered that class session, how a genuine sense of release was her own. She realized that only an insane world could penalize her for not reproducing.