For the past twenty-four hours, Audrey Hepburn has been my muse.
Last night, after cooking a mediocre dinner of rice and vegetables, I sat down to eat and needed Netflix to barely fill the empty spot next to me where my love usually sits. I chose Breakfast at Tiffany’s.
Truman Capote has come and gone-from my life-several times. I first read Breakfast at Tiffany’s in eleventh grade, with the daunting task of writing (my first ever) eleven page research paper. We went to the library to thumb through a few books that we might be interested in researching. At sixteen years old, Breakfast at Tiffany’s was the supreme option: It was short, the cover was pink, and, “I said, ‘what about Breakfast at Tiffany’s,’ she said ‘I think I remember the film and if I recall I think, we both kinda liked it,’ ‘well, at least that’s one thing we’ve got.’”
I have what Ella Berthoud and Susan Elderkind call reading-associated book amnesia. In The Novel Cure, they describe:
Sufferers of reading associated amnesia have little or no recollection of the novels they have read. They come home from the bookshop, excited by the new crisp novel in their hands, only to be struck five or twenty pages in by a sense of déjà vu. They join a conversation about a classic novel they believe they’ve read, only to be posed a question they can’t answer-usually what happened at the end.
If you had to read Wuthering Heights in high school but you don’t remember it, you might have reading associated amnesia. Try watching the movie (the version with Tom Hardey and Charlotte Riley). It will leave you, helpless, with a pile of boogie rags and an aching heart.
But a book like Breakfast at Tiffany’s has a way of sticking with you-even if you cannot remember the guy’s name; even if as a naïve sixteen year old you have no idea what Tiffany’s is, even after you’ve written an entire research paper. It sticks with you enough to make you buy a Breakfast at Tiffany’s poster to put above your bed in your first year of college. Something about her name, Holly Golightly. I remember a critic described it like this: life is a holiday, and through it you must tread lightly.
Capote came back to me when I read In Cold Blood for English 101. Goodness, how that book contrasts in style and, obviously type, from Breakfast at Tiffany’s.
If you watch Breakfast at Tiffany’s, which you should, there are countless moments and quotes that will speak to you-especially if you’re transitioning (interpret ‘transition’ however it applies to you). Holly lives in a mostly empty apartment in Manhattan where she uses suitcases simultaneously for storage and as tabletops. About her cat she explains:
Poor old cat. Poor slob. Poor slob without a name. I don’t have the right to give him one. We don’t belong to each other. We just took up one day. I don’t want to own anything until I find a place where me and things go together. I’m not sure where that is, but I know what it’s like. It’s like Tiffany’s…When I get [the mean reds], what does any good is to jump into a cab and go to Tiffany’s. Calms me down right away. The quietness, the proud look. Nothing very bad could happen to you there. If I could find a real-life place that made me feel like Tiffany’s then…then I’d buy some furniture and give the cat a name.
I went to Tiffany’s in the evening at Christmastime with a dear friend last winter. Holly speaks the truth. I’m still looking for my own Tiffany’s. Holly finds hers in the end, so I know I will, too. In the meantime, I will be a drifter (luckily, there are two of us), and listen to songs like Moon River, as sung by Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany’s, because there’s such a lot of world to see, like these beauties:
A Drifter, Headed in the Wrong Direction (away from me)
A Soggy Afternoon Backyard
A Frozen, but Happy, Man
A Not-Frozen Niagara Falls at Night
An Empty, Sparkly Street (and, no, we don’t know if they stay on all year)
Niagara Falls was a bit too cold to be my Tiffany’s.