Every few weeks, for what has been the majority of my life, TNT or ABC Family or USA or Bravo or Lifetime has aired You’ve Got Mail. And I’m sure in the coming weeks this programming will just exponentially increase (alongside her other works–When Harry Met Sally, Sleepless in Seattle, Julie & Julia–heard of them?) in the light of Nora Ephron’s passing.
Tangent: It always astounds me how quickly the NYT and its peers can turnaround such well written, fully fleshed out, and insightful obituaries about people like Ephron overnight. It makes me wonder if there are a few people tucked away somewhere in these big print companies who are solely tasked to write post-humous, pre-death articles to keep at the ready for notable people. I’m sure those measures are in place for big name heavies like the President but I wonder if there are pieces about Clint Eastwood, Jerry Seinfeld, Mark Zuckerberg, or Sophia Grace in case of untimely death?
In any case, although Ephron is most celebrated for When Harry Met Sally, the work that means most to me is You’ve Got Mail. I’m not sure when my first viewing was but I do know that the opening sequence kickstarted with an AOL Dial Up tone was totally relevant. I was well acquainted because of typing and internet classes (?!) at my elementary school. What I do know is that it resonated with me on some strange cosmic level because I didn’t really understand a lot of what was going on those first few times. I just knew that I liked it.
I liked it because Joe Fox’s Aunt Anabelle and brother Matt mirrored the age gap between me and my siblings. Because it’s funny to hear grown-ups trying to sing in a round. And because I completely subscribed to and still believe Kathleen Kelly’s belief that “when you read a book as a child it becomes part of your identity in a way that no other reading in your whole life does…”
And a movie you love as a child, and then as a teenager, and as an adult becomes a part of your identity in a way that I can’t begin to tell you about.
Every year when I pass the Back to School section in Target I think about a bouquet of freshly sharpened pencils.
Every time the elevator stalls I think back to Patricia’s inane conversation and realize what I don’t want in a relationship.
Every time someone bogarts a part of seven-layer dip or scrapes additional topping onto their plate I think “That is a garnish.”
And now that I live in New York, and on the Upper West Side more specifically, I find myself living this story I love so much.
When I pass Cafe Lalo and grab the fence saying “She had to be. She had to be!”
On a nice fall day when I’m walking down to 72nd street, I feel like there’s not a sound on the city streets, just the beat of my own heart.
And when I stop into Zabar’s I’m always wary of the cash only line. “She has no cash. She has no cash? She has no cash.”
When I recount the days of the week, “Maunday, Tuesday, Thursday, Wednesday…”
When I run past the 79th St. Boast Basin and yell “HELLO NEW JERSEY!” (I really do do this. People smile and then politely run around me.)
When I mentally psyche myself up because I’m a lone reed. Standing tall. Waving boldly. And then promptly punch the air in true Meg Ryan fashion.
And when I walk through Riverside Park, listening to dog collars jingle, I think of Brinkley.
But more than all the perfectly timed quips–and there are a lot of them–it makes me feel like everything will be alright. And I know how ridiculous of a statement that must sound like but it’s true. Sometimes I write not because I want a response but just to send something out to that void. And when I wonder about my life, I’m comforted in the knowledge that I lead a small but valuable life. And when you find that life has stood you up, boycotted your company, and you’re living in your boat, closing down your mother’s bookshop, or entering the Over Thirty Chat Room, is that things can and will turn out better.
In Nora Ephron’s Commencement Speech to Wellesley grads:
“What are you going to do? Everything, is my guess. It will be a little messy, but embrace the mess. It will be complicated, but rejoice in the complications. It will not be anything like what you think it will be like, but surprises are good for you. And don’t be frightened: you can always change your mind. I know: I’ve had four careers and three husbands. And this is something else I want to tell you, one of the hundreds of things I didn’t know when I was sitting here so many years ago: you are not going to be you, fixed and immutable you, forever.
Did I say it was hard? Yes, but let me say it again so that none of you can ever say the words, nobody said it was so hard. But it’s also incredibly interesting. You are so lucky to have that life as an option.”
When life found me on another coast, in a new job, missing CA friends & family or after a less than pleasant wedding experience it also found me curling up in sheets and visiting with NY152 and Shopgirl.