Dear Josephine, I’m reading Jane Eyre


Bri Greve

A snapshot from my senior photos, which just involved me frolicking in the woods.

A year or so ago, for a celebration I cannot quite place, my best friend gifted me an antiquated anthology of a few Jane Austen novels.

The pages are framed in a dull, gold leaf, the cover plastered in long-forgotten vivacity. Illustrations bring the stories to life from within the pages, the art style reminiscent of a time I never even came close to experiencing but feel so tethered to.

However, most notably, the front page contains a quaint etching that reads, “To Josephine.”

From the moment that I unraveled this collection and perused its frail leaves, it became a prized possession. Because even though I had no face to the name Josephine filling my mind—no legacy to carry on—I knew that’s what she would’ve wanted.

Her book rests on the top shelf above my bed, and each night my fairy lights pattern its gilded pages, casting dim kaleidoscopes on my walls. I rarely take it down and have yet to consume the content within, but simply knowing it’s there has become solace enough.

This behavior has become quite the hobby; I cannot count the number of times I’ve purchased a piece of 19th-century literature, only for it to become a decoration piece upon my bookshelves. And unlike as is the case with Josephine’s compilation, a sense of guilt had begun to fester within me over the past few months.

My mental and physical stack of books I had to read was growing in innumerable quantities, and I saw no end on the horizon or no motivation to start within my future.

Yet, this month marked the beginning of the first official book club in AP Literature. And despite advice from nearly everyone around me, including myself, to not test my limits, I chose to read Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë.

The occasion became precisely what it was: a minute section of life, never to be repeated in that specific order or tincture ever again.”

I have always been the type to fall head over heels in love with certain books and devour them within mere days, and Jane Eyre has thus far been no exception. Each time I crack open my rich emerald and pale violet copy, I find myself wading within the depths of its prose, cherishing even those characters who are utterly flawed.

And just as I feel myself disintegrating into an entirely ulterior realm, I look up to a moment in time that is so much brighter than it was before.

Yesterday, from the window behind which I sat, the once verdant field that perimeters the Kentwood Library was patterned with alabaster snow. Along the skyline, saffron and tangerine melded together into a pigment of late autumn, silence occupying the mild air. For hours I’d been perched there, tirelessly chipping away at the mountains of homework I had to complete.

Nevertheless, looking out at the meadow before me—akin to the early-morning pasture through which Mr. Darcy walks to profess his love for Elizabeth—the subtle stress that palpitated within me slowed to a gentle boil. The occasion became precisely what it was: a minute section of life, never to be repeated in that specific order or tincture ever again.

With warmth and personality, a sense of gratitude flashed across my cheeks, and I dove back into my schoolwork.

Dear Josephine,

I’m reading Jane Eyre, and I think I finally figured out what they mean when they tell me to live in the moment.

It’s not about accomplishment or even growth. It has nothing to do with the future and the grand scheme of things. It’s just about me and the beauty that each second has to offer.

Thank you.