If I can just get back to New York, I'll be fine
Not that you can tell from that line, but Nora Ephron is funny. From the way this book reads, she seems very normal, in that crazy, disorganized, neurotic sort of way. My kind of normal. I felt a instant connection to her for some reason. Could've been her description of what happens when you get a new purse...
You start small. You start pledging yourself to neatness. You start vowing that This Time It Will Be Different. You start with the things you absolutely need -- your wallet and a few cosmetics that you have actually put into a brand-new shiny bag, the kind used by your friends who are competent enough to manage more than one purse at a time. But within seconds, your purse has accumulated the debris of a lifetime. The cosmetics have somehow fallen out of the shiny cosmetics bag (okay, you forgot to zip it up), the coins have fallen from the wallet (okay, you forgot to fasten the coin compartment), the credit cards are somewhere in the abyss (okay, you forgot to put your Visa card back into your wallet after you bought the sunblock that is now oozing into the lining because you forgot to put the top back onto it after you applied it to your hands while driving seventy miles an hour down the highway). What's more, a huge amount of space in your purse is being taken up by a technological marvel that holds your address book and calendar -- or would, but the batteries in it have died. And there's half a bottle of water, along with several snacks you saved from an airplane trip just in case you ever found yourself starving and unaccountably craving a piece of cheese that tastes like plastic. Perhaps you can fit your sneakers into your purse. Yes, by God, you can!
Oh my God. Nora Ephron and I are soulmates. I had this feeling she and I would get along great. So much so that about 10 pages into the book (the excerpt above is from page 12), I decided I was going to write her a letter to let her know just how great I think she is. As I kept reading, I made tons of mental notes -- funny little tid-bits I would include in my letter to make her laugh. I was planning to craft the perfect letter. You know, so that when she read it she'd be so floored by how much we have in common that she would immediately pick up the phone and invite me to her next dinner party. In her Upper East Side apartment. In New York.
And then further into the book, where she's writing about a book she just loves, she writes this...
I felt alive, and engaged, and absolutely brilliant, bursting with ideas... I composed a dozen imaginary letters to the author, letters I'll never write, much less send. I wrote letters of praise. I wrote letters relating entirely inappropriate personal information about my own experiences with the author's subject matter. I even wrote a letter of recrimination when one of the characters died and I was grief-stricken. But mostly I wrote letters of gratitude.
I'll never write that letter to Nora Ephron and she knows it. And I bet she's okay with that.
She writes about being a parent...
Your adolescent has changed, but not in any of the ways you'd hoped for when you set about to mold your child. And you have changed too. You have changed from a moderately neurotic, fairly cheerful human being to an irritable, crabby, abused wreck.
She writes about divorce...
Never marry a man you wouldn't want to be divorced from.
I like that "from" there at the end. Yep, we're two peas in a pod, Nora and me. Well, not entirely. I wasn't all that crazy about When Harry Met Sally. But, I won't bring it up at her dinner party. If someone else does, I'll just smile politely and sip my champagne.
That's another thing she and I have in common. We both love champagne. She writes about her love of champagne when she envisions it being served at the reception after her funeral. Because it's so festive!
She includes imaginary talk about her funeral and the reception that might follow, because this is not only a book about purses and New York and parenting. It's also a book about what it means to grow older. Or more specifically, what it means to be a woman who is growing older. She writes with humor and a lot of heart about becoming more and more forgetful, being as blind as a bat and about losing dear friends. She writes especially funny things about going to lunch with her girlfriends, er, woman friends. Women who are all wearing turtlenecks, or scarfs that make them all look like Katharine Hepburn in On Golden Pond, because they are all trying to hide their old, wrinkly necks.
She said her neck started to go after she turned forty three and had she known, she would have spent more time when she was younger staring at it lovingly in the mirror. She would have spent more time praising that part of her body that she completely took for granted.
She made a list of other things she wished she'd known...
Back up your files.
When someone says "Our friendship is more important than this," watch out, because it almost never is.
There's no point in making pie crust from scratch.
The reason you are waking up in the middle of the night is the second glass of wine.
There are no secrets.
You can't own too many black turtleneck sweaters.
I'm not sure about all of those things, (okay, okay, the backing up of the files is a no brainer that I still can't get my mind wrapped around.) But, I completely agree with that last one. I have a whole closet full of black turtlenecks. They've definitely been a fashion staple of mine for as long as I can remember, and only because I like them. I don't wear them because I feel bad about my neck. Yet.