The other day at the Atelier, we were talking about favorite writers and Veronica mentioned Nora Ephron. Embarrassedly, I admitted that, though her movies are amongst my absolute favorites, I’ve never actually read her writing. Shocked, Veronica turned to me and said, “BUT, YOU LITERALLY ARE NORA EPHRON?!”
Upon leaving work, I ran into McNally Jackson and purchased Heartburn, which I’ve since been devouring faster than a melting ice cream.
I happen to be a writer who is both Jewish and currently living in New York. So, I see where Veronica is coming from (and am supremely flattered :) ). I also am a bit of a hopeless romantic…
I’ve grown up on Ephron’s movies, amongst all romantic comedies.
I vividly remember watching Dirty Dancing with my mom as a child, her fast-forwarding through the abortion scenes, just wanting me to see “the dancing!” I remember being twelve years old, watching Because I Said So in theaters, again with my mom, and giggling every time Mandy Moore or Diane Keaton said the word “orgasm.”
I remember Reese Witherspoon’s character in Sweet Home Alabama shouting, “Why do you want to marry me, anyhow?” To which a rain-soaked Josh Lucas answers, “So I can kiss ya anytime I want.” I remember Julia Roberts and Dermot Mulroney dancing to “The Way You Look Tonight” on a boat gliding down the Chicago river in My Best Friend’s Wedding. I remember John Cusack holding up the boom-box (Say Anything).
Do I wish these movies gave more purpose and arc to these women’s stories outside the confines of a traditional, hetero, outdated, girl needs boy narrative? Of course. But, that doesn’t mean there isn’t still much to gain from them.
Because what stays in my head more than anything are the moments when the women in these films are the coolest, wittiest, cleverest, and most stylish girls I could ever imagine. (Well, that…and Mark Ruffalo in 13 Going on 30 ;) )The kind of girls who could write you a scathing op-ed, pick out the most flattering lipstick color, quote Virginia Woolf, and roast a perfect chicken. Essentially, women who possess nuance, who aren’t afraid of their femininity, but who also aren’t afraid of their brains. The kind of woman I hope to be.
What I’m talking about is this: Elle Woods’ case-winning speech in the court room, proving a woman’s innocence using the “rules of haircare” (Legally Blonde). The thrill Jenna Rink (also, 13 Going on 30) feels after producing a joy-filled, kick-ass editorial with her friends, using “real” people (arguably, 10 years before the fashion industry caught onto this trend.) Sally Albright’s (When Harry Met Sally) overall, unabashed conviction to be her “difficult” self, her intelligent banter, and her willingness to change her mind.
You see, more so than dictating the type of relationship I aspire to be in, these films have given me female role models—how to have commitment to a career I’m passionate about, how to create a home out of a metropolis, how to build a thriving life for oneself.
In fact, as I write this, it’s a Sunday afternoon and I’m sitting outside a coffee shop in my neighborhood. It’s warm enough to be sipping iced coffee, but cool enough to be bundled in a cozy sweater. In other words, it’s that perfect You’ve Got Mail weather that actually makes you love New York, if only for a moment. And I can’t help but feel a little bit like Meg Ryan in that film. An independent, New York woman with a penchant towards sentimentality, an appreciation for good cashmere, and who just loves books.
The other night I went to a too-hard work-out class and thought of Meg Ryan in her leotard and leg-warmers in that When Harry Met Sally montage of her trying to move on and enjoy her NYC, single life. Then, I bought a sad Sweetgreen salad to-go and brought it home to eat on my couch. In the elevator up to my floor, there was another 20-something girl in her work-out clothes, carrying her own Sweetgreen bag. As I lit a candle and sat down in front of my T.V. to eat, I couldn’t help but recall Jennifer Lopez doing the same at the beginning of The Wedding Planner. And in that thought, I felt comforted, not alone.