Wednesday, June 27, 2012

It Is An Affair To Remember - Nora Ephron Made Us Happy

English: Nicholas Pileggi and Nora Ephron at t...
 Nicholas Pileggi  and Nora Ephron at the 2010 Tribeca Film Festival. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
There was a time, long ago, when both of my sons were away at college and the phone would ring and one of them would utter something like this: "Mom, turn on TBS Sleepless In Seattle is playing." Cute, huh? Sweet even. It always made me feel good that they knew their mom well enough to know that no matter how many times I might have seen a particular movie I will watch the film again and again. This fact about me was #24 on my post about 84 Things You May Not Know About Me.

Today I would like to take just a few minutes to say thank you to Nora Ephron. Nora passed away yesterday leaving many of us sad and wondering what will we do without her uncanny ability to zero in on a story, write a captivating screenplay, find wonderful actors to play roles that really so many of us have played in our real lives.

I am about eight years younger than Nora, but I know many of our generation grew up watching Deborah Kerr and Cary Grant in An Affair To Remember. And for those of you out there who refuse to believe that lovestruck people don't still say: "If we are meant to be together, we'll plan to meet on the top of the Empire State Building", I am here to tell you that once long ago in 1976 I was to meet someone on the top of the Empire State Building. He cancelled.

But years later on the occasion of my 25th Wedding Anniversary to the one and only true love of my life, Dennis took me to the top of the Empire State Building. The year was 2003 and it was then I had probably seen Sleepless In Seattle (1993) 50 times and Dennis knew just how to surprise me (unlike Nickie in An Affair To Remember, Dennis took me first to the top of the Empire State Building and then on to Europe to cruise the Danube).

Nora Ephron's body of work is remarkable. If you have ever worked for a less than moral employer...then you relate to Silkwood (1983). If you graduated from high school or college and moved to the big city to find your fame and fortune (and "what she's having"), then you identify with all the ups and downs of When Harry Met Sally (1989). If you discovered (or hoped to discover) the love of your life in a "chat room" and wound up marrying him/her, then memories resonate each time you watch You've Got Mail (1998). If you have ever struggled to find your identity by learning to cook (#54 of the 84 Things You May Not Know About Me), then Julie and Julia (2009) not only inspires one to learn to cook, but also to start a blog.

Nora lived a life that many of us would envy. As a young woman she lived in Washington, D.C. and New York City, she worked as a White House intern for President Kennedy, she applied to be a writer for Newsweek in 1962, but was told women could not be writers; however, they did offer her a job in the mail room and she accepted it. She went on to write for the likes of  New York Post, New York Magazine, Esquire, New York Times Magazine, and even found herself in a heartbreaking marriage to Carl Bernstein - one of two reporters for the Washington Post who helped uncover the secrets of Watergate.

I learned today that it was that heartbreaking marriage that inspired Heartburn (1986). I must confess that I have never seen Heartburn, but I do know the music from it and I have experienced divorce (#16 of the 84 Things You May Not Know About Me).

There is no easy way to close this post. Except to say a few final words. Nora Ephron gave us a gift. She shared her gift of writing with all who were willing to read her novels and eventually watch her films over and over again, simply because watching one of her films is still like getting together with old friends. Most of us never had the pleasure to meet Nora in real life, but we feel like we know her. And we feel like Nora knew us or at least she knew what we might be feeling or experiencing in all of those cross-roads of life, those life changing events.  She taught us to dream, she coaxed us to dream even in the depths of heartache.
“And then the dreams break into a million tiny pieces. The dream dies. Which leaves you with a choice: you can settle for reality, or you can go off, like a fool, and dream another dream.”
― Nora Ephron, Heartburn
Heavy hearts tonight...but It Is An Affair To Remember and we won't soon forget.

Dennis & Judy - Empire State Building 2003

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Anonymous said...

Thank you, Judy, for that wonderful tribute to Nora Ephron. I got tears in my eyes when you shared "watching one of her films is still like getting together with old friends." Yes. And, by the way, I LOVE the picture of you and Dennis. Lovebirds :)

Judy Helfand said...

Thanks for stopping by. I just had what one might call a "Nora" moment. I was sitting at my desk and realized one of my earrings was missing! You know you go into a panic mode, particularly when you wear the same loops day in and day out. And exactly when did the darn thing fall out of my earlobe? You don't want to know how many 1/2 "pairs" of earrings sitting in my jewelry box. Anyway I stripped the bed, checked the chair in the livingroom, searched the closet floor...after about 30 minutes I found it! Yeah! It's a girlfriend moment...right?
I liken a "Nora" moment to what we often call a "Seinfeld" moment. The truth is Seinfeld used to say his show was a show about "nothing." Nora Ephron's movies, plays and novels were always about "something", like her Meg Ryan character in "You've Got Mail" said: "Whatever else anything is, it ought to begin by being personal."


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