Unlikely Heroines and Newly-Sharpened Pencils

The summer is winding down, and would you be very upset if I admitted that I don’t mind so much? I find myself running my hands over the brand new notebooks on drugstore shelves and notice that the leaves on my street’s trees look more tired and less juicy than they did even a few weeks ago.

These summer days are long and indolent, tempting me to perch on park benches with a library book as the sun turns me bit by bit into a moist teacake, as Harper Lee would say. And I love it. I celebrate by rewatching Dirty Dancing, that summer classic, and revel in that teenage feeling that summer seems to bring out in all of us, full of messy self-discovery and that shameless summer sheen. Watching “Baby” come into her own in a time of great change in America is one of my favorite ways to mark this sweltering season.

But then the nights begin to cool just a little and my mind turns to a different love story. Do you love You’ve Got Mail as much as I do? Love is all grown up now, but still messy and imperfect and sweet. And the clothes, and that New York brownstone. It’s a story about two unlikely people who fall for each other for all the right reasons, and then have to sort out the inconveniences. It’s a rare movie that allows the main characters to be sweet but also angry and impulsive, sharp-tongued but also kind. We follow them through the city as the weather turns crisp, and honestly who would I rather spend this season with than Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks?

ny in the fall

You’ve got Mail reassures me that it’s ok to be in love with life, to believe in magic and books and the kindness of strangers. It’s ok to wear jumpers, and hang twinkle lights, and take yourself on coffee dates in a city you love. It’s ok to sometimes say the wrong thing, to lose your nerve, or to fight for something or someone you believe in. And it’s ok to hang on to your quirks and your chintz couch, ok to be proud of your past and the stars in your eyes. Girls like us get to be heroines of the story, too.

So this fall, I plan to embrace that. Any minute now, shop windows will showcase leather gloves and cashmere, boots and red wool coats, but what I am hoping to embrace this season can’t be bought. So often I think that the right accouterments will make me the star of my story, but this fall, I hope to direct the spotlight on who I am, what I think, and what I can create. I’ll hang those twinkle lights, wear what I already own and love, keep finding my voice, and sort out the inconveniences later. Don’t you think it’s time?

Not ready to leave the Shop Around the Corner just yet? Here’s a must-read article on Nora Ephron, You’ve Got Mail, and writing movies that resonate with people.

This post is dedicated to my sister, MFH, who sparkles unfailingly as she finds her unique voice.


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