Not Nora…

Dear Friends,

It saddens me so much to write this post. My only writing icon and legend, Nora Ephron, has passed away. When I moved to NYC last year, I really thought I would be able to meet her at one point. Right before I moved, I read her most recent book, I Remember Nothing. In it, she speaks about what she will miss and what she won’t in her life. Among things she will miss, coming over the bridge to Manhattan and pie. It is almost prophetic that she wrote these words so recently. They speak to me, because those too, are two of my favorite things in the world. Every time I recognize the city lights coming home on one of the bridges, or eat a slice of pie (any kind will do), I will think of Nora. I will feel guilty that I can never speak of these things with her, and most of all, that she will never be able to consult me on my writing.

The first apartment I had here was on West 43rd street. It was a very magical street. I did not want to live that west, or that uptown at the time.  I didn’t know why because I was not a New Yorker yet, although, much like Nora (a fellow California girl), I always felt I was in my heart. I remember getting off the subway to see the apartment and glancing to my right. I saw the Westside Theatre, which was playing Nora and Delia Ephron’s play Love, Loss and What I Wore. My heart started racing. Without thinking, I immediately crossed the street to ask the box office if Nora ever came in. The man looked at me and cocked his head to the right saying, “Some Saturday night shows, she does.” Next door, was a vintage store. A few weeks later, I made a connection with the owner there. She, too, said that sometimes she hosted a writer’s group and Nora has been known to come in. Nora knew how to realistically portray New York City and make the most simple things look sensationalized mainly because she was so immersed in the community. Riverside Park, for one. Papaya Dog, another. And Katz’s Deli especially. Just last summer, I was in Katz’s for the first time and walked over to the ceiling sign that said “Where Harry Met Sally.” I took a picture by it – feeling as though I could do anything I wanted in that moment. “I’ll have what she’s having.”

I remember having a bad day this past Christmas. I was on vacation in Florida. I turned on the TV and When Harry Met Sally was on. I pulled out my screenplay of the movie and followed along. Before Harry and Sally had even reached New York, I had forgotten what I was so upset about.

Just from my and Nora’s shared path on one tiny block in Manhattan, I knew we had kindred wants, desires and interests. I felt strongly that if she ever met me, she would see similar hopes and dreams she had when she was a mailgirl at Newsweek in the early 60’s. She is the only celebrity figure that I can honestly say I loved from afar. New York felt like it might be a home for me after watching her films. Every time I see the Empire State Building at night, I think of Jonah, the little boy in Sleepless in Seattle, and Tom Hanks running up to him and locking eyes with Meg Ryan for the first time.  Every time I’m on the upper west side, I think of The Shop Around the Corner and You’ve Got Mail. I walk around, wondering desperately where the café is where Tom and Meg meet, when she still has no idea he is the man she met in the random chat room on her 30th birthday. Whenever I lose faith in men, life, love, myself – I look to Nora Ephron. She is the ultimate inspiration for me and did wondrous things for creative women all over the world. Because of Nora, I feel as a woman I can be romantic, funny, and graceful all at the same time. If I were to identify all of her work into one word, all that comes to mind is Lovely. She was lovely.

I bought yellow daisies for my house last week. Not gerber daisies, but regular daisies, just like the ones Tom Hanks bought Meg Ryan in You’ve Got Mail. “Aren’t daisies the friendliest flower,” a sick Meg asks Tom. It makes me ill to know that these daisies I bought last week have out-lived Nora Ephron. I am going to dry them in her honor and hope that one day, I will meet my Harry and maybe if I’m lucky, I will write something that a critic compares as, “Nora Ephron-esque.” What I hope most is that I can take the best advice she gave America, “…when you realize you want to spend the rest of your life with somebody, you want the rest of your life to start as soon as possible.” (When Harry Met Sally, 1989)

We will miss you, Nora. I will miss you.

Kisses,

Jessica

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