“Packing again?” Lady B cries, seeing the pile of trunks accumulating in the foyer, being brought down by a number of now exceptionally sweaty and out of breath, which is somehow only enhanced by their calf-bearing uniforms.
“Who’s leaving this time? Has Miss Darby entered her confinement?”
“No one’s leaving,” I say. “Well, I am, but I’m only going away for the weekend.”
“Heavens, what is a weekend?” Lady B asks.
“We should have never let you watch Downton Abbey,” I mutter. “But I’m only going away for two days. To the Jane Austen Society of North America’s Convention. I’m going to talk about Lizzie Bennet stuff, but I hope to immerse myself in the world of Aunt Jane!”
“Jane Austen is your Aunt?” Lady B asks, her feathered turban bobbing in consternation.
“Uh… no, that’s just what she’s called sometimes…”
“And Miss Austen has a society? And convention? This seems strange. I shall write to her, see if she would come to town for tea and explain this madness. Had I but known you were related!”
I sigh We’ve tried to explain it to her before, but to Lady B, Miss Jane Austen is – depending on whatever year we’re in — a contemporary writer of middling success (hey, Prinny likes her work). But to us, Jane Austen is an author of worldwide renown and has been dead for the better part of two centuries.
The space-time continuum of the Ballroom has never been easy to navigate.
“But if you are going for only two days, why are you taking so many trunks?”
“Because I don’t know what I’ll need!” I cry, throwing my hands up in the air. “There will be talks, and teas, and a ball – and there are even dancing lessons! This isn’t your average ‘take-notes’ conference.”
“One of these trunks is empty.” Lady B raises an eyebrow.
“Well, the conference is in Minneapolis,” I reply sheepishly. “They have a mall…”
“Your desire to promenade in this miniature Polis does not explain the need for an empty trunk. But have a lovely visit and give your Aunt Jane my regards. And let her know I will be sending her a letter within the week.”
I’m terribly excited about attending JASNA this weekend! What should I pack?? Also, I’ve never been to Minneapolis – what should I see/do?