One of the projects I had opportunity to work on as a medievalist was a TEAMS Middle English text about Robin Hood with editor-scholar, Thomas Hahn. Most people think of Carey Elwes in Men in Tights or Russell Crowe. You may even remember the Disney animated movie with the wily fox??? Yes, Kevin Costner was Robin Hood, too--the only one in history with an American accent yet playing a British folk hero. And we may never talk about Robin Hood and not mention the 1922 film with Douglas Fairbanks. The black-and-white movie made Hollywood history with the famous dueling scene shot as mere shadows on a wall. Let us not forget Errol Flynn's 1938 version either....
My job was to obtain original Robin Hood texts on microfiche, copy them, then transcribe those texts to be included in the volume. My work mostly took place in my favorite building on campus: The Library. The first day I came to the University, I walked up the granite steps and through the heavy wooden double doors that were at least 100 years old at the time, entering a marble-floored wonder with stacks upon stacks of books, some of which were hundreds of years old. The reading room alone was worth the price of admission (though I attended UR on a full merit scholarship so was only paying for things like books and living expenses, not the $32,000/year tuition--and that was 20 years ago!).
Filled with incredible light from a stained glass window across from the entry, right above a shiny-black grand piano, the room was flush with books along the shelved walls in between mahogany paneling and floor-to-ceiling windows covered in velvet draperies that kept direct sunlight off of the ample leather seating spread around the ballroom-sized space. I spent every minute possible in that reading room. Thinking of it now, and being over 1,000 miles, is rather an emotional experience.
Time and perspective can still surprise, even after 43 years on the planet....
In a way, the library reading room at University of Rochester was a greenwood, like Robin Hood's Sherwood Forest. A space where anything was possible, even a group of men maintaining their masculinity while unapologetically cloistered together in the woods. Though I cannot escape into my beloved reading room at the moment, the smell of leather and old books filling the air, my time living in the mountains of #Georgia has a similar feeling, despite the lack of Tiffany stained glass and an ebony Steinway.
My adventure began a lot like Robin Hood. After enduring several long, bloody battles, I was exiled by an evil regime, forced to retreat to the woods to regroup. I even had my own Little John. Though he sadly died after an arrow attack. Not much of a loss, actually; all he ever did was eat. And yes, at this point, I've collected enough friends to claim a band of my own merry men. Very merry. There's a Sheriff as well, but he's far from the villainous sort. More of a real life superhero. It is my job to study them, after all....
My house in Atlanta is on the edge of a literal forest. Driving here is a peaceful, blood-pressure-dropping experience. After miles upon miles of green trees, mountains winking at you in the distance, the crude and abrupt commercialism of reality melts into the background. You turn down a road that winds up and down, cutting through row upon row of pine. My backyard is full of them. And Nature dances on my very door step. I've been happily met here by deer, fox, all manner of lizard, snake, insect, bats, and more birds than I've ever seen in my life. If I could stay here forever, my soul would rejoice. But even Robin Hood couldn't stay in the safety and comfort of the greenwood.
I belong to a wider world. A world full of movie and television stars, professional poker players, live audiences, screaming fans, designer duds, wrinkle-free skin, D-cups, and envelopes full of cash. I fly above the trees on a regular basis, gazing down at the mountains below from wispy white clouds before landing in nine cities over twelve days. Arrows are useless at such heights. And, speeds.
I'm Rebecca Housel, not Robin Hood--though we share the same initials. And every single day, I'm grateful for who I am. My life has been a walk in an infinite greenwood. The sun always shines in my world. And though I'm no thief, rich or poor, I will never stop sharing that #light with those in need.