a gay black woman's discovery of her jewish self

Joe? Your name is Joe?

Posted on: June 26, 2012

Confession, I’ve watched “You’ve Got Mail” more times than I can remember. I owned it on VHS and watched it at least once a month when I was living in Toledo, Ohio. I loved living in Kathleen Kelly’s seemingly perfect world. I loved her quirkiness, her brilliance, her outfits. I thought she got the best lines out of any other character in the whole movie (except for maybe Parker Posey). I wanted to be her-a smart, New York small business owner who, in a horrible twist of fate, ends up an author with the person of her dreams living in an amazing apartment on the Upper West Side. When I finally moved to New York I visited all of the landmarks in that movie from the inspiration behind the fictional Shop Around the Corner to the park where Joe Fox and Kathleen Kelly finally meet off Riverside Drive. I knew I wasn’t Kathleen Kelly and I wasn’t looking for Joe Fox, but on some level I felt I was experiencing the world through Nora Ephron’s eyes.

It wasn’t until recently that I re-watched “When Harry Met Sally” and it, along with “Julie and Julia” and “You’ve Got Mail” (on DVD) are on constant rotation in life. Moments ago I finished “Sleepless in Seattle”.  Viewing New York City through Nora Ephron’s eyes, unlike other movies or television series with New York as a backdrop, is honest, frank and very New York. In Nora’s New York your cheap plastic bag gives way to a mess of groceries on the side of the street, your true love is disguised as an arrogant asshole, and your life and love of your life may only be found a few keys tokes away. Okay, so maybe New York isn’t really Nora Ephron perfect, but the characters she writes are pretty accurate portrayals of who we are as New Yorkers.  Nora’s women were smart, funny, quirky and confident, even if they didn’t recognize their confidence right away. Her women took risks, were independant, and loud-mouthed, even if they apologized after their outbursts.

Many celebrities have died this year it seems, but for some reason this death is especially hard for me. Perhaps it’s because Nora’s movies played such a huge role in my early twenties, perhaps it’s because I’m a sucker for a movie with a strong female lead, perhaps it’s because there aren’t very many women who write and direct as honestly as Nora and that realization means that the industry will never be quite the same.

Rest in Peace, Nora.  Thanks for the memories.

My heart and prayers go to her and her family.

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