The other night, while it was too rainy even to see out the windows, I decided to curl up at home with one of my favorite chick flicks of all time- the 1998 Nora Ephron romantic comedy “You’ve Got Mail“. Lots of you may remember it – the sweet story of Kathleen Kelly (Meg Ryan), a lover of children’s books and owner of the “Shop Around the Corner” who, in the dawn of AOL Mail, finds herself chatting and becoming infatuated with NY152 (Joe Fox, played by Tom Hanks) through their e-mail exchanges, all to the tune of The Cranberries. Fantastic. The kicker is that the charming Joe Fox is heir to a big-business, discount bookstore that threatens to put her little shop to shame, forcing it to close.
No matter what was going on in my own life in 1998 – I was a college kid, embarrassingly so, with not much idea about real-life relationships and what they entailed (on or offline) – I realized the other night that the character of Kathleen Kelly still resonates with a piece of me today, with her demeanor, romantic personality, loves of literature and writing, and even some of her struggles. Oh gosh, she is me.
Throughout the film, Kathleen ponders the validity of her work life, and whether she continues in her line of work year after year out of sheer love or simply out of the fear of expanding her horizons to include what others may expect of her. What I relate to most about her comes from one particularly memorable exchange from the movie, when she explains to Joe Fox her ultimate work/life philosophy:
“It wasn’t personal. What is that supposed to mean? I’m so sick of that!
All that means is that it wasn’t personal to you.
But it was personal to me.
It’s personal to a lot of people.
What is so wrong with being personal anyway?
Whatever else anything is, it ought to begin by being personal.”
I think so, too. Being personal is something I value immensely. I too, live a simple life – valuable, but small. I run a small business doing handwritten calligraphy for weddings and other life events, preserving what so many people call a lost art in this age of digital obsession. I am a solopreneur at what essentially is the “shop around the corner.” But my business is incredibly personal, brings beauty and happiness, and if I can touch lives with it I will continue to fight for it, because in the end, being personal is all there really is.