My heart goes out those in Colorado, terrifying images of burning fires — each summer here we have runaway veld fires, people suddenly finding themselves homeless, people suffering with burns, people dying. It doesn’t matter if your home is a corrugated iron shack or an eight-bedroom mansion with swimming pools and double garages and a landscaped garden, it is still your home.
I was in my 20s when I first read Nora Ephron’s biting satirical wit and I went on from the essays in Crazy Salad to the autobiographical Heartburn and then watched and revelled in Sleepless in Seattle, and When Harry Met Sally. Another loss, Ephron’s death from leukaemia at 71.
“And then the dreams break into a million tiny pieces. The dream dies. Which leaves you with a choice: you can settle for reality, or you can go off, like a fool, and dream another dream.”
Us fools and our dreams. I sat up in bed this morning and sketched out the rough design for a new herbal bed with a zigzag of grey sages and golden feverfews or golden marjoram, a small-leaved Greek basil running prettily along the edges. How chic it will look until picked! Then it will look like all the other herb and vegetable beds I have ever planted, abundant but messy, all chewed up parsley and sprawling mounds of melissa noisy with bees. And the dogs will romp through whatever I plant anyway. But the dream of those horizontal ziggurats of herbal beauty persist.
A friend celebrating her fifth year sober today, saying to me on the phone that she was willing and eager from the start but made more mistakes and muddles than she had done while drinking: falling in and out of love with unsuitable people,resigning from her first decent job, throwing a lump of pastry at her mother-in-law (detail modified for anonymity) and falling off the roof of her ex-husband’s house at 3am while helping to fix a satellite dish connection. I was pleased that I could share my own mistakes and remind her of Nora Ephron’s wise comment:
“Whatever you choose, however many roads you travel, I hope that you choose not to be a lady. I hope you will find some way to break the rules and make a little trouble out there. And I also hope that you will choose to make some of that trouble on behalf of women.”
Developing a sense of humour about ourselves along the way — indispensable in sobriety.