An Ode To Nora Ephron, The Queen Of So Much More Than RomComs

rexusa_263770rPhoto: Charles Sykes/REX USA.
When I was younger, I loved When Harry Met Sally. And, You've Got Mail. And, Sleepless in Seattle.
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I still enjoy them now. But, I'm a little less of a wide-eyed romantic these days, and a little less charmed by Meg Ryan's ditzy...charms. But, I'm no less delighted by the woman behind those movies, and queen of the personal essay, Nora Ephron.
Two years ago, when the news of her passing broke, I remember feeling a more intense sense of loss than seemed sane, considering I was mourning a women I had never known, or even met. But, reading Lena Dunham's remembrances of the writer — and her friend — in The New Yorker, I felt something else; something that brought my feelings into sharper contrast. It was almost jealousy. Of Lena. Of all of the incredible life lessons she must have learned from Nora (a few of them clearly manifested in her own book of thoughts and essays). Of the orphan Thanksgiving she attended at Nora's home (no doubt, with four foods on every plate, rather than three). And, especially, of all of the life-changing advice Nora must have given Lena, like: “You can’t possibly meet someone right now. When I met Nick, I was already totally notorious, and he understood exactly what he was getting into. You can’t meet someone until you’ve become what you’re becoming.”
After reading that essay, I called my best friend (and present-day romantic comedy lover), and told her how sad I was that Nora was dead, for all the standard reasons, but even more importantly, because it meant that I would never have the opportunity to be her friend. And, I wanted so deeply to know her better.
So, when I rediscovered her book of essays, I Feel Bad About My Neck, And Other Thoughts on Being a Woman, just a few weeks ago, I was overcome with glee. I'd read a lot of those stories when they first came out, but I was still pretty fresh out of college at the time, and I don't think I fully absorbed the brilliance of her wit and wisdom back then. This time around, though, I paid attention — because I knew this was my posthumous opportunity to get to know Nora better. Her writing made me want to be funnier and smarter in my own work, but even more importantly, her hilarious, frank stories made me want to be better and more present in my own life.
Up ahead, five quotes that exemplify just that, but only begin to capture the magic that was Nora Ephron (so I threw in a video of her talking about her life and career as well, down there at the bottom. Watch it — PBS made it, and it's good).
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"When you slip on a banana peel, people laugh at you; but when you tell people you slipped on a banana peel, it's your laugh. So you become the hero rather than the victim of the joke."
(From "The Story of My Life in 3,500 Words or Less")
"Why hadn't I realized that what I thought of as love was simply my own highly developed gift for making lemonade? What failure of imagination had caused me to forget that life was full of other possibilities, including the possibility that eventually I would fall in love again?"
(From "Moving On," possibly the best love letter to New York that I've ever read)
"My experience is that 'I don't know what you're talking about' is code for 'I see what you mean, but if you think you're going to trap me into engaging on this subject, you're crazy.'"
(From "I Feel Bad About My Neck")
"My mother didn't serve Yorkshire pudding, although there is a recipe for it on page 61 of The Gourmet Cookbook. My mother served potato pancakes instead. I serve Yorkshire pudding and potato pancakes. Why not? You only live once."
(From "Serial Monogamy: A Memoir")
Every single thing in "What I Wish I'd Known," but especially that "Whenever someone says the words 'Our friendship is more important that this,' watch out, because it almost never is." Oh, and also: "You never know."
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