There is always a measure of magic in watching a classic like “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” * for the millionth time: Audrey Hepburn’s face retains an exquisite beauty that never becomes dated; Givenchy’s clothes are still to drool over and, in the end, love conquers all and the cat gets a name. What is there not to like?
Like most Blake Edwards’ movies, though, the dark side is right under the surface, and some things have not stood the test of time: a red-headed American playing a Japanese, for example, would not fly anymore and neither would a man saying “you belong to me”, and a “wild thing” refusing to be caged should have other options besides marriage.
As charming and beautiful and well-dressed as she is, I can’t imagine any woman aspiring to be Holly Golightly.
But there is one way I identify with Holly Golightly: when the mean reds strike – the irrational fears that lap at our unconscious and refuse to budge – wandering around Tiffany’s, where it feels like nothing could happen, helps.
In my case, it is not Tiffany’s but I have l have always had places where I felt like nothing could happen, where the blues and reds of life are invariably lifted, if only for a little while.
How can places hold such power? What is it that makes our mind shift and relax?
If I think back, none of the places that cured me of the mean reds seem to have anything in common: in Bologna, it used to be a small, walled off garden the existence of which was unknown to most residents; in Milan, a walk along the canals would always do the trick; in London, it happened to be the National Portrait Gallery, filled with faces of a mysterious past and many doomed destinies (it also happened to be free and warm, both convenient requirements in those salad days of heat-free apartments); here in LA, it is Malibu, probably the closest to Holly’s Tiffany’s.
I walk around stores pretending I could actually afford a $600 tank top; I sip tea at the Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf watching the kids in the playground being minded by Latino nannies and famous mothers alike; I buy my favorite ice cream at Grom’s; I imagine occasions where I would wear a Morgan LeFaye dress and, all the while, I think of nothing concrete – worries are melted away. It never fails.
If I analyzed these sensations more closely, they might have something to do with being in an environment that projects an air of carefree attitude, a living version of Instagram, as if affluent people, or those who shop at Tiffany’s, didn’t have their own troubles. But I don’t. Analyze. Quite frankly, it doesn’t matter. It rebalances my fears when they need to be rebalanced, the same way that sitting in a quiet garden, listening to a wood maker chip away at wood used to; the same way conjuring up the lives of people who walked the earth centuries ago did. It takes me out of my head, a place I love to inhabit a bit too much sometimes.
And do you have a Tiffany’s? Where is it?
* I saw “Breakfast at Tiffany’s”, on a giant inflatable screen, lying on the grass at Will Rogers State Park, as part of the Street Food Cinema series that plays around LA until the end of October. Great evening out and/or perfect date spot. Thank you Mayet!