Everything I need to know, I learned from 'Sleepless in Seattle'
Sleepless in Seattle, how have I not written about you before? Regardless, here we are now, ready to show Nora Ephron some much overdue love. Ephron, as I have discussed before, is my writing idol/hero/goddess. Her words ring true to me always, and I often find myself finding new truths in them as I get older. Yes, even in romantic comedy form. I mean, especially in romantic comedy form because words are best delivered via Tom and Meg’s mouths.
EINTKILF Sleepless in Seattle
1. Loss is best handled by real change.
Well, the movie is called Sleepless in Seattle, so you have to assume that Sam and his son Jonah leave Chicago eventually. Turns out, it’s in the very beginning of the movie, after he tells his boss that he needs real change—to be in a city that doesn’t remind him of his late wife, Maggie, at every turn. I have (very gratefully) never lost a life partner to a disease, however, funnily enough, I needed to leave Seattle after the worst breakup I ever had. A city reminding you of someone you once loved can be a very, very hard thing to deal with.
2. Meg Ryan ruled the ’90s.
OK, I know that When Harry Met Sally came out in 1989, but that was basically the ’90s. Sleepless in Seattle came out in 1993, and You’ve Got Mail came out in 1998 and those three romantic comedies are the ultimate romantic comedies. Meg Ryan, you are my world.
Also, don’t marry a dork that is allergic to everything.
(JUST KIDDING KINDA)
3. Destiny is probably pretty real.
“You make a million decisions that mean nothing, and then one day you order takeout and it changes your life.”
Annie’s mom tries to convince her that destiny is real based on her love story with Walter. Annie bites back, arguing that she felt like her love story was more coincidence than anything else. Of course, there are a million “signs” (“you don’t believe in signs!”) surrounding Walter that all point to the fact that FORESHADOWING. Mama always knows best.
4. You can tell a lot from a person’s voice.
Though this line comes from Dr. Marcia Fieldstone, the nosy radio operator I don’t really like, she is absolutely correct. You know those people you just love and feel safe with because of the sound of their voice? I have people like that in my life, and yes absolutely one of them is Tom Hanks.
5. Be realistic.
The best line in this movie, the line that always races through my mind, comes from Becky (the always wonderful Rosie O’Donnell). “You don’t want to be in love. You want to be in love in a movie.” (That is some solid Ephron, people.)
But how many of us can relate to that line? How many of us grew up watching movies exactly like this one (like literally this one) and dreaming of that kind of movie love? All of us, you guys. We all have. There is eventually a time when it is OK to step back from movie love and remember that real life love is flawed and difficult and worthwhile. …or so I’ve heard.
6. Be careful who you marry.
When Walter, Annie’s man, finally admits that maybe they are not a perfect pairing, he actually delivers some memorable lines.
“I don’t want to be someone that you’re settling for. I don’t want to be someone that anyone settles for. Marriage is hard enough without bringing such low expectations into it, isn’t it?”
And I didn’t get married when I was 22 (o ever: I’ve never been married) but I love that sentiment. Yes, some people get married when they are young, some people get married when they are not ready, some people get married because of the wrong reasons. And it takes a big person to admit that marriage is harder than it may seem. Walter is MEH, but his points are the 100 emoji.
7. Attraction is a big deal.
I feel like there are a lot of people out there in the world, assuming that attraction is controlled, or at all conscious.
“Annie, when you’re attracted to someone, it just means that your subconscious is attracted to their subconscious, subconsciously. So what we think of as fate is just two neuroses knowing that they are a perfect match.”
And that’s the truth, because subconscious instincts matter. Subconsciousness is what explains all of the terrible people you may have dated in the past, or what explains the fact that you know you deserve better but cannot quite explain why you are stuck on that one person. Because you can blame your neuroses and that’s OK because it is a really real thing.
8. Computers = full truth.
And the funny thing is that in 1993 this was humor, but now, it’s just kind of what we think. I trust my Twitter community so much more than the humans in my real life.
9. “People who are truly loved once are far more likely to love again.”
Because Sam loves again, and Annie loves again, and it is such an incredible feeling to know that all of us can love more than just one time. And yes, this is a movie, and yes, this was 1993, but YES I believe that Nora Ephron spoke the truth and I believe that she was always right and I believe that rom-coms are silly but can be realistic and I believe that this lesson applies to me, or at least I hope it does. Loving more than once is something that we should all be able to believe in.