February 20, 2013

Reflections: "I Feel Bad About My Neck"

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Nora Ephron was an accidental genius. I so wish I could have sat down to coffee with her. We would both wear cozy oversize sweaters and order lattes at a hip city café and we would laugh and laugh all afternoon. And it would be raining. And it would be perfect.

I just finished her book, “I Feel Bad About My Neck” while on a plane to D.C. I could hear her voice the entire time I read, ranting about face creams and parenting and her beloved New York City apartment. Her life was peppered with amusing stories and heartbreaking truths. And everyone she ever knew was a character in a story, including herself. She was a character in her own life, and after reading her quirky life diatribes, I see that little bits of her were in every character she ever wrote. She was Sally Albright in “When Harry Met Sally”. She was Sam Baldwin in “Sleepless in Seattle”. She was both Julie and Julia. She secretly (or not-so-secretly) inserted her funny, sad truths into everything she ever wrote. She was unapologetic. She was unrelenting. She was regretful. And she shared her legend with her world, which happens to be the world we all live in.

She died this past summer. I was living in a house in Southwest Atlanta with a gaggle of beauties when I heard the news: Nora Ephron has died. I was sad, mostly because I wish I were a part of her generation; most 25-year olds don’t know who Nora is. But her voice sort of transcended time, at least to me. I was given the book, “I Feel Bad About My Neck” by those lovely ladies that I lived with for the summer. (God bless them, they had me in their home so I could finish up my degree, since I no longer actually lived in the same state as my university, but that’s a mouthful-of-a-story for another time.) I love them, those sweet girls who were guardians of my summer. I’ll really have to tell you that story some time. But I lived in their home when I heard about Nora’s death and they mailed me the book for my birthday this past September, so there is something about them that connects me to Nora.

The book, just like my band of endearing friends, is just lovely.

The truth is, I’ve actually been a little concerned about my neck. Apparently it’s the first thing to “go” when you start aging, according to Nora. You’re supposed to use face cream on your neck. Women want to preserve their skin, so they lather on the face cream, and the neck always goes unnoticed. This is a grave female mistake, because your neck will give you away. I started using face cream last year, at age 24, because apparently I need to start turning back the clock. Which is funny, because in so many ways I feel like my life’s clock hasn’t really gotten going. How much time has passed? Yes, I’ve grown into a whimsical character in my own mind, and yes I’ve married a fabulous handsome man who encourages my dreams, but I don’t know that I’ve actually done much of merit yet. Is the bar set too high? I don’t say that to mean that everything I’ve done up to this point isn’t important. I’m continuing to become me, and everything I’ve done so far has shaped my odd little life. But as a child, you believe that you’re going to BE something. Preferably something big. It feels strange to use face cream at this stage, because I feel like so much of my life hasn’t really happened. And yet, I should already be trying to preserve my rapidly-decreasing youth. Is this odd to anyone else? In case you’re wondering, I’ve begun using a bevy of Origins products. I’m such a sucker. But I feel sort of justified, because at least Nora felt the same way.

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