If there was a creative who epitomized the value of the idea we try to explore in our work on nynatives.com: the special worth of nativism, it was Nora Ephron. Even decades later, When Harry Met Sally from 1989 and You've Got Mail from 1998 still hold their weight as cultural standouts for the ins, outs and ups and downs of love, life, loss and second chances in our relationships and careers that take a unique shape in New York City. This week we honor the woman who worked, lived and breathed NYC into the rest of us.
In a Manhattan romance she put into words and pictures what so many modern women wanted the world over: to be seen and understood: Who can forget what Billy Crystal told Meg Ryan in When Harry Met Sally: "I love that you get cold when it's 71 degrees out. I love that it takes you an hour and a half to order a sandwich. I love that you get a little crinkle above your nose when you're looking at me like I'm nuts. I love that after I spend the day with you, I can still smell your perfume on my clothes. And I love that you are the last person I want to talk to before I go to sleep at night."
Ephron like fellow New York Natives Woody Allen and Martin Scorsese, has defined what New York tastes, smells and sounds like for the entire world whether it was a small bookshop on the West Side, a tiny starter apartment in Brooklyn, falling in love in Central Park or the let down of a metropolis on New Year's Eve.
She invested in sharing the best of her city off-screen as well with her film crew on set. "On You've Got Mail we had a dedicated "above-the-line" craft service person; someone standing by to scour New York for the perfect fudgesicle or the perfect donut -- whatever Nora felt the crew should have." Remembers Tamara Bally, the production accountant for the film.
Our appetite whet, we embraced her desire to zap our female sexuality into the modern world with Sally's infamous orgasm at Katz's Delicatessen, share an adventure into the new world of online relationships. Blind dates at the top of the Empire State building were as classic and fresh as King Kong's own silver screen love affair with New York's most famous skyscraper in a bygone era. She put the art of the blog and a native passion for food on-screen with Julie and Julia. We couldn't and still can't get enough of her stories that hit somewhere just a little too intimate and even too close to home to put our own finger on all the time.
Nora Ephron was born in New York City, the eldest of four sisters. The daughter of two screenwriters she moved with her family to Hollywood in her early childhood but she eventually lived and worked in New York City throughout her career.
Nora Ephron called the blog itself "a soap bubble" so I shall not bother to yammer on but leave you with her take on our beloved city. She may have captured truly why those of us who are born, raised and making our lives happen here -- might never leave:
Whenever you give up an apartment in New York and move to another city, New York turns into the worst version of itself. Someone I know once wisely said that the expression "It's a nice place to visit, but I wouldn't want to live there" is completely wrong where New York is concerned; the opposite is true. New York is a very livable city. But when you move away and become a visitor, the city seems to turn against you. It's much more expensive (because you need to eat all your meals out and pay for a place to sleep) and much more unfriendly. Things change in New York; things change all the time. You don't mind this when you live here; when you live here, it's part of the caffeinated romance to this city that never sleeps. But when you move away, your experience change as a betrayal. You walk up Third Avenue planning to buy a brownie at a bakery you've always been loyal to, and the bakery's gone. Your dry cleaner move to Florida; your dentist retires; the lady who made the pies on West Fourth Street vanishes; the maître d' at P.J. Clarke's quits, and you realize you're going to have to start from scratch tipping your way into the heart of the cold, chic young woman now at the down. You've turned your back from only a moment, and suddenly everything's different. You were an insider, a native, a subway traveler, a purveyor of inside tips into the good stuff, and now you're just another frequent flyer, stuck in a taxi on Grand Central Parkway as you wing in and out of Laguardia. Meanwhile, you read that Manhattan rents are going up, they're climbing higher, and they've reached the stratosphere. It seems that the moment you left town, they put a wall around the place, and you will never manage to vault over it and get back into the city again.
― Nora Ephron, I Feel Bad About My Neck: And Other Thoughts on Being a Woman
If you should find yourself in this unfortunate situation do get in touch and look up the New York Natives Guide to NYC, we'll make sure you feel right at home again, but inspired with childhood wonder.
Thank you, Nora Ephron -- we will miss you.