On the radio yesterday, I heard a recording of the speech that the late writer, journalist, screen-writer, and filmmaker Nora Ephron gave at her alma mater Wellesley College’s Commencement in 1996. It was featured on BBC (British Broadcasting Corporation) Radio 4, one in a series of great speeches broadcasts that were inspired by last week’s 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King’s assassination. Heard as I mashed some potatoes for supper. Apposite at a time of #MeToo, when we can feel another shift of change.
Chances are you know the speech, or will recognise it. The one that begins “…dear class of 1996, I am so proud of you.” and ends “The first act of your life is over. Welcome to the best years of your lives.” ? In case you don’t, it is easy to find online, in text or on video.
I have no meaningful tributes to add to those paid to Nora Ephron, by many eminent persons. I have only the following to offer up: when the time is right, my daughter will hear or read this.
Listening to the speech reminded me of my big girl-crush on Nora Ephron, and of the pleasure I take from her work. It also reminded me, in some solipsistic way, that a novel I want to write, which I never find time to return to, which I have roughly outlined and for which I have written a pitiable 22,000 words, was part inspired by Nora Ephron. By a quotation taken from her essay Moving on: A love story. I am embarrassed to admit.
Embarrassed because if I live another sixty-five years to be one hundred (ahem, okay, and the rest…), I will never write a sentence, or indeed an entire book, that features anything as pithy, perfect, and pleasing as an aphorism by Ms. Ephron.
‘Moving On: A love Story’, Nora Ephron, in The New Yorker, June 5 2006.