Project Emily Advent: Day 13

Project Emily Advent: Day 13

Describe your favorite things to do when you’re in a bad mood.

Holly: You know those days when you get the mean reds?

Paul: The mean reds? You mean like the blues?

Holly: No. The blues are because you’re getting fat and maybe it’s been raining too long, you’re just sad that’s all. The mean reds are horrible. Suddenly you’re afraid and you don’t know what you’re afraid of. Do you ever get that feeling?

Paul: Sure.

Holly: Well, when I get it the only thing that does any good is to jump in a cab and go to Tiffany’s. Calms me down right away. The quietness and the proud look of it; nothing very bad could happen to you there. If I could find a real-life place that’d make me feel like Tiffany’s, then - then I’d buy some furniture and give the cat a name!

There’s a documentary on Netflix called Audrey. It tells the life story of beloved actress Audrey Hepburn. Her rise to international fame is nothing short of dazzling. The documentary shows scenes from her films, her Oscar acceptance speech, and photograph after photograph of her on set, at home, and attending glamorous events in beautiful gowns. Her clothes are incredible, from the simple outfits she wore to cook or garden to the elaborate costumes for films like Funny Face and Breakfast at Tiffany’s. She worked closely with Hubert de Givenchy on the costumes for several of her films. The story goes that she approached him about designing the costumes for Sabrina, her first major film to follow up her Oscar win for Roman Holiday, and that he was at first disinterested, but was won over by her elegance and charm.

Audrey rose to international success despite experiencing a difficult childhood. Her father deserted his family when she was a little girl, and she never really got over his abandonment. Growing up in a Nazi-occupied Holland, her first dream was to become a ballet dancer. She took dance lessons, and even performed in underground recitals to raise funds for the Dutch resistance. But by the time the war was over and she could pursue serious ballet training, it was too late, and she pursued acting instead.

She was married twice, both unions ending in divorces. She had one son with each of her husbands, her children becoming her proudest achievements. She talks about choosing to step away from Hollywood in order to raise her first son, Sean. Many assumed she was making a great sacrifice to give up her career, especially one of that magnitude. She says that it was an entirely selfish decision— being with her son made her the happiest she’d ever been.

For such a beautiful person, there is a deep sadness to Audrey. There is this entirely devastating scene in the documentary where her friend tells about the time she traveled to Europe to reconnect with her father. Her friend recalls that she was crushed at how her father received her— with cold indifference. The entire world at her feet and she cannot force the affection of the one man whose love really matters to her.

And yet, she chose joy. She loved her sons. She loved to cook. She loved her gardens and her friends and her dogs. She dedicated the last years of her life to serving as a special goodwill ambassador to UNICEF, wholly committed to saving children. She was truly a great beauty.

I am entirely enchanted by her. She is my antidote for the mean reds.

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No joke.