May 2, 2016

dear nora

Blogger's Note: I wrote this letter about a month ago after spending a weekend reading a few books that stuck with me. It was like I needed to get these words off of my chest before I could move on to other books or other writing projects. And as I can't actually send this letter, and because I feel like some of you readers might share in these feelings, I'm leaving it here as a tribute to one of my heroes. 

Dear Nora,

I read three of your books this weekend. After years of admiring your films, essays and interviews—and after watching your son's beautiful documentary (you must be so proud)—I realized it was past time to read these books that have long been on my to-read list. (Please don't feel bad. I have hundreds of books on that list. Now I feel bad for mentioning the list, but somehow, it seems like you might understand and appreciate my quandary.)

Heartburn kept me up until 3. (In full disclosure, I must also confess that the probable raccoon nesting in my attic played a small role in my late night, too.) It broke my heart. It busted my gut. I cried—tears of laughter and pain. Then, when it was over, it brought tears to my eyes again, because I remembered I'd never be able to tell you how much your book moved me. (That's something you should know about me, Nora. I'm not just someone who pens letters or notes to authors I admire, or elected officials, who need a kick in the butt. I'm also vain and egotistical enough to imagine myself rising to the level where my heroes will not only notice me, but they'll want to talk with me. Again, I suspect you might get that too.)

After Heartburn kept me up, I Feel Bad About My Neck woke me up the following morning. (Here's another confession—you're really getting me to spill my soul. After listening to an interview you gave on NPR back in 2005, I started moisturizing my neck. I was only 19, and I figured that if I started early on my neck maintenance, maybe I'd be okay. Not a day has passed since when I haven't moisturized and groomed my neck in a fight against gravity. And every time you—and that interview—come to mind.) So now, reading your book, I not only took your words to heart and read them furiously, I loved them.

Again, I laughed and cried, because they were so wonderful, so honest. Even though they were written years ago, it was like you were writing—or rather talking—to me now. Not just talking to me, but having a conversation with me. And then I remembered we live in a post Nora Ephron world, and I got sad. Sad young storytellers today won't get to eagerly anticipate your next movie or blog post.

To fight my bittersweet melancholy, I—you guessed it—opened a copy of I Remember Nothing. Now this time I went in a little guarded. I knew all too well I'd probably reach the end and be filled with a sadness like both times before. But soon I forgot to feel sad or be guarded. I was too caught up making vows to say yes to butter and no to having a meatloaf named after me.

This time, when I finished, I waited for that ache to come. The one from knowing I'd never hear of a new Nora Ephron release nor have the chance to meet you and become one of your friends and mentees. It didn't come. Instead, I felt happy. Happy to live in a world where people, like me, can share colorful stories. Happy to live in a world where we can escape into words that were seemingly put together just for us. Happy to live in a world with strong, brilliant women to admire—ones who challenge us to be better and the best versions of ourselves, while accepting who we are along the way. Happy to live in a world where someone gets me so clearly and has taught me so much, even though we'll never meet.

I'm happy to live in a world where you lived and loved and created and shared and challenged generations.

Thank you for leaving behind such a legacy and for sharing your truths with the world. Before we say good-bye—and I really need to wash my face and moisturize my neck—I have one quick question. It's about your no-carb ricotta pancakes. Do you think I could make it with blueberries, or would that destroy the integrity of the whole dish?

Respectfully and with love,


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