Wednesday, June 27, 2012
Like most Ephronians, I had no idea Nora was ill, but she had been on my mind the past six days. I was in New York, staying on the Upper West Side, a neighborhood she immortalized through her essays and films like You've Got Mail. I landed Thursday morning, and by Thursday evening was already suffering Nora induced Tourettes while at dinner on Amsterdam Avenue. I regaled my friends Carly and Amy with her opinions about the city as if she and I shared a brownstone. Nora's writing makes me feel certain I was a New York Jewish mother in a past life. Some may see this as a testament to my craziness, I see it as a testament to the crazy power of a brilliant writer.
Nora was brave enough to let us know her through her words. We got to be there when she fell in love with The Apthorp, Shake Shack custard, the MetroCard bag, and e-mail. We got to be there when she fell out of love with her purse, her neck, Bill Clinton, and eventually, The Apthorp and e-mail. Above all else, we got to be there as she fell in love with modern day New York in a way no other writer has. Walking through her city, it's hard not to wonder what would Nora say about... the closing of H&H Bagels, or the addition of CNN ticker-like screens on the steps of The Met, or the poached egg and lobster croissant at Piccolo Cafe? I envisioned Nora one day opening a bed and breakfast a block off the park, where she'd offer complimentary wine and cheese from Zabar's, and assist guests in changing their dinner reservations to someplace acceptable.
As a filmmaker, Nora made movies we wanted to live in. As an essayist, Nora told stories we wanted to be a part of. As a person, Nora was someone we wanted to have dinner with. That dinner will never happen for me. But I did meet Nora once, at Amy Pascal's Brentwood home in February of 2007. We didn't actually talk. She was a guest, I was in an apron. I guess I saw her more than met her, but I stared long enough that it feels like we met. It was a birthday party for Howard Stringer, and Nora was master of ceremonies. I huddled in the corner of the tent so I could watch, but tragically positioned myself by the heater and the air singed my calves throughout Nora's speech. Then Ron Howard took the stage and Nora came and stood a foot away from me. I forgot about my burning calves; my heart began palpitating. I never thought a women could do that to my heart, but Nora proved me wrong. And yes, she was wearing a beautiful scarf that hid her neck perfectly.
Like any great artist, Nora connected us: to America, to the city, to our hearts. She approached writing with a romantic curiosity that's sure to leave countless Ephronians forever delightfully addicted to her words.
- My best friend Kate Lambert and I watched this clip together over the phone years ago, it has since brought me more joy than my therapist deems healthy. If you didn't love Nora before, get ready to fall.