|Nora Ephron on the set of "Julie & Julia". Credit: Jonathan Wenk/Columbia Pictures|
If I could blame anyone for convincing me that New York City was a place to live in, where you could actually build a life there, instead of just one big party, it would be the newly late Nora Ephron, and "You've Got Mail."
Even now, the Upper West Side is still my real estate goal in New York, even when student loan payments and accepting realization that I'll never ever be, rich. If I get lucky, I'll probably just graze middle-class. But that doesn't matter when you live in the New York of a Nora Ephron film, where you can stroll through a farmer's market with a man you used to hate but now kind of love, where the lights of the Empire State Building are a sign of true love, and where you can fake an orgasm at Katz's Delicatessen and everyone who was staring at you will want what you're having.
I was disappointed when I finally went to Cafe Lalo where Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan's character "meet" in "You've Got Mail" and saw that it wasn't quiet and romantic as it was in the film. I had suggested it as a first date, and it turned out to be loud and very brightly lit. And not conducive to whispers and covert hand-holding, and the other things people do on dates that they don't want other people to notice. But the brandy-spiked hot chocolate was delicious...
Maybe it was because I knew the dialogue of her films so backwards and forwards (I would quote them verbatim in high school to make myself seem more mature; even now, I consider myself high maintenance) that her death last night seemed sudden and made me gasp. That doesn't happen very often these days with celebrity deaths. Most of the time (such as with Amy Winehouse, another one that made me sad), you saw it coming. I didn't. In fact, I had just seen her on Sunday (or rather, her writer's voice), while watching "Julie & Julia" again for the 1,000th time.
It was the small details that Ms. Ephron wrote about New York that made me want to live there. And really, when you live in New York, it's not the wrestling through crowds, overfilled subway cars or tall skyscrapers that keep you rooted in it. It's the little, mundane and amazing things that keep you grounded, and sane.
I'm going to end this blog post with some words from Ms. Ephron about New York, courtesy of "New York Magazine." It sums up what I've been feeling about New York ever since I saw "You've Got Mail" for the first time at 11 years old (my parents moved to California when I was 2).
I’d known since I was 5, when my parents forced me to move to California, that I was going to live in New York eventually and that everything in between was just a horrible intermission. I’d spent those sixteen years imagining what New York was going to be like. I thought it was going to be the most exciting, magical, fraught-with-possibility place that you could ever live in; a place where if you really wanted something, you might be able to get it; a place where I’d be surrounded by people I was dying to be with. And I turned out to be right.
June 17th was my one-year anniversary of living in New York. So far, despite the unsavory details in the day-to-day of living here, what Ms. Ephron wrote is true.
ETA: On the theater front, Ms. Ephron also had an opinion about musical theater. Here is a conversation between her, Frank Rich, George C. Wolfe, Jonathan Tunick and moderated by Jesse Green about the Greatest Musical. I don't agree with the verdict but the lead-up is amusing and quotable.