Miss Holiday Golightly, Traveling

What I’ve found does the most good is just to get into a taxi and go to Tiffany’s. It calms me down right away, the quietness and the proud look of it, nothing very bad could happen to you there, not with those kind men in their nice suits, and that lovely smell of silver and alligator wallets. If I could find a real-life place that made me feel like Tiffany’s, then I’d buy some furniture and give the cat a name.

Quite-twee Audrey Hepburn in a black dress, Holly Golightly, a disconcertingly different book by an author whom I first know by his investigative memoir—this is how I thought of Breakfast at Tiffany’s by Truman Capote. And now that I have read it, here are the things that would be far too schmaltzy for me to say:

[01] Ever since I read it, I’ve been seeing Holly Golightlys everywhere—the girl in the short frilled skirt, the student wrinkling his nose at a book on the bookshelf, the forty-three-year-old woman in leopard print, the taxi driver with rings and rings on fingers. The kid across the room giving us a wink before laughing it off.

There is a Holly Golightly in all of us, clad in black and masked with glasses amid dank, busy streets. Going somewhere, anywhere. Traveling. We’re all phonies in one way or another, creating life stories from scratch—stubborn, near-mad-with-dreaming dreamers. But we’re real phonies, we remind ourselves when we care to. Holly Golightly, who “believes all this crap she believes. You can’t talk her out of it.” Basically: “She’s nuts.” We act seemingly without care, and dare near-strangers to say something about it: “I suppose you think I’m very brazen. Or très fou. Or something.” Because, you see, it’s useful to be mad, to be different.

[02] There is a Holly Golightly in me. And like the original Miss Golightly, much of this facet of my identity needs to be put on whenever a situation calls for it. An artifice, it needs to conjured and painstakingly assembled before its appearance.

And I know that its root is all the stubborn dreaming. Reading dreams results in volatility. Volatility results in watching too many clouds, looking out too many windows.

“Ask me, that’s what done it. Looking at show-off pictures. Reading dreams. That’s what started her walking down the road. Every day she’d walk a little further: a mile, and come home. Two miles, and come home. One day she just kept on.”

How many times have I been tempted to just keep on?

[03] We have all fallen in love with a Holly Golightly. Even though our Holiday Golightlys have told us, “Never love a wild thing.” We fell in love because the vibrancy of it was shattering. It played the guitar and sang one song all through the night, it drank vodka until sunrise and gave us gilded bird cages the next day. It called us Fred. We fell in love because we wanted to play along—we found out that even in moments of self-deception, the blues and the mean reds could lift away, and there it is, Holly Golightly, speeding past us on horseback in a city park.

Suddenly, watching the tangled colors of Holly’s hair flash in the red-yellow leaf light, I loved her enough to forget myself, my self-pitying despairs, and be content that something she thought happy was going to happen.

But we fell in love at the risk of many things. Vibrancy casts everything else into the shadows. Loving Holly Golightly, as terrible the truth is to us, rarely feels like a good thing.

. . . as the days merged I began to feel toward her certain far-fetched resentments, as if I were being neglected by my closest friend. A disquieting loneliness came into my life, but it induced no hunger for friends of longer acquaintance: they seemed now like a salt-free, sugarless diet.

[04] We have all lost a Holly Golightly. Because we loved a wild thing no matter the warnings thrown at us, because we loved the impossible, the Holly Golightly who would never name her cat, who’d keep all her possessions in brown boxes, but would overwhelm a room with a larger-than-life bed. And we keep on looking for that Holly Golightly—we insist on this—parts of her at the very least. Never love a wild thing.

“If she was in this city I’d have seen her. You take a man that likes to walk, a man like me, a man’s been walking in the streets going on ten or twelve years, and all those years he’s got his eye out for one person, and nobody’s ever her, don’t it stand to reason she’s not there? I see pieces of her all the time. . .”

If we can’t find Holly Golightly, we’d settle for catching the first bars of a familiar song. We’d let a bird out of a cage, train it to say the beloved’s name, and let it circle our house chanting the two words in its vocabulary. We will resort to climbing through windows and leaving notes on Welcome mats in the hopes that someone will draw a chair or write back. It doesn’t have to be Holly Golightly. It can be the heavy fall of hair, the corner of an eye, the slim wrists, laughter. Soon, this will be enough.

[05] Everyone needs to fall in love with at least one Holly Golightly. The Tiffany’s to have breakfast in, that will come later.

That is all, thank you, excuse me, have a nice day.

One restless night in Katipunan Avenue monto, I bought Breakfast at Tiffany’s from National Bookstore.

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5 comments

  1. That cover is absolutely brilliant. It should be framed and hung on a wall.

  2. You are making me want to reread this. I love this little book. I’d seen the movie first and I remember being struck by how different Holly Golightly on the page was different than Holly Golightly on the screen.

  3. I’ve never read this. Sounds like a fun/universal read. I enjoyed the movie. Interested to see how it differs.

  4. Hello, all. I’ve never seen the movie, although I’m already too familiar with its icon-status, as well all the other icons it produced. I found the book simple, sweet, deliciously jazzy, and even though I’m not planning to view the movie soon, I’m glad I have this under my belt.

  5. […] Breakfast at Tiffany’s, by Truman Capote. […]

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