September 19, 2007

Modern Jane

I do not title this entry under the presumption that I am a modern Jane Austen. By no means does my writing resemble her wit, narrative style, and keen sense of human nature. Rather, I want to record an instance in my life that mirrors an occurrences within her novel, Emma. I recently began a new job (ah, the post-grad life), and there are several people in my workplace that resemble characters within her novels, specifically Emma. Life contains a special hue to me when it connects to examples in fine literature such as Miss. Austen's novels.

I was leaving work one bright, sunny evening when I ran into a woman who was with me on my first day-orientation. Let's call her Mrs. Elton for anonymity's sake. She is a vivid character with her coiffure of blonde and rusted strands straightened and styled to perfection. Her attire consisted of a tweed suit, a bolero jacket and flared skirt, and those little boot-heels that I personally hold to be a fashion mistake. Her sweet face is marked by brown eyes that pop with inquisition and mischief. As we walked to the T, she recounted her experience of working with the sales team (she is the only woman of 12 men, which is impressive), labeling the numerous young men on her team who are single and attractive. "You should totally go out with one of them, like this guy from our orientation. He's so hot. If I was ten years younger, I would totally make out with him."

She says all this in drawling, elongated tones, revealing her New Orleans origins. She makes plans for me to come to their desks around lunchtime, with the hopes that I would eventually date him or "make a good match." I must admit that I would not be averse to the idea. He is an attractive man, seemingly kind and smart. Although I have only spent a total of six hours with him, during which I was primarily focused on learning about my new place of employment, as these six hours were our company orientation. His position would make him akin to Mr. Knightley, so we will call him that, although he is much closer in age to me than Mr. Knightley was to Emma.

We enter the T and Mrs. Elton spies another young woman who works at our company. "Oh my god, look who it is [for anonymity's sake, we will call her Jane Fairfax].!" Jane is a short, slim girl with dark brown hair and a gentle expression (not unlike her fictional counterpart). She is quiet and humble and gives me a slight smile when Mrs. Elton introduces us. "I keep telling Jane that she should hook up with Mr. Knightley. She's my lunch buddy and we sit in the cafeteria and talk about people when they come in. I've been keeping an eye out for Mr. Knightley to invite him over." Again Jane gives a slight smile. I cannot tell if she is annoyed or simply indifferent to Mrs. Elton.

The whole scene reminds me so much of Emma that I could resist drawing the comparison. I do not presume to be Emma, for I lack the desire of matchmaking and the elegance conveyed by Miss. Woodhouse through Austen's writing. But I do love when something written in the early nineteenth century connects to this modern world. It makes life and history seem much smaller and closer to my life, riddled with possibilities of the future. I enjoy reflection and connection to the past, for history is what feeds our current soul and gives our life meaning.

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