HOW TO BE LOVELY
When we are older, she said, we will be rich, we will be kind, we will be generous, we will be famous. We’ll be fit and classy, we’ll wear red lipstick and wide brimmed hats and flowers in our hair. We’ll have coffee dates and wear heels to lunch and top hats to dinner and ball gowns to breakfast. We’ll live on bread and cheese and buy Vogue instead of dinner and cook simple meals for our lovers and drink wine by the moonlight. This is what my cousin, Kelli, and I were dreaming of one Saturday.
In reality we stood in Circe, hoping that our lives would be as extraordinary as we were imagining, hoping that the things we wanted would have a place in them. I looked at the finely-made clothes and saw myself at the ballet, or the theatre, or practicing my lines at a London café. Kelli looked and saw herself writing her first novel, her first book of poetry, her first play. As we were lost in our daydreams, two women entered the shop. They were about fifty, elegant, with dark hair and darkly-lined eyes, big sunglasses and high heels. They seemed to be close and fully enjoying their day out. They exuded class. They left, and Kelli turned to me and asked: “Can we be like that when we’re older?”
“Most definitely,” I replied.
Kelli and I are very close to our grandmother, and we like to think our love of beautiful things comes from her, who taught us to love language, music, theatre, and Audrey Hepburn. My nana has loved Audrey (who is, by the way, no relation to the late great Katharine Hepburn) since the day she stepped onto the screen in Roman Holiday, and she has done her best to educate her granddaughters on the life and works of this lovely lady. A few years ago, I visited my nana and papa in Arizona and fell head over heels in love when I saw her as Holly Golightly in Breakfast at Tiffany’s. I launched my search to learn everything and anything about her, and Kelli, having no way to avoid my obsession, came with me.
We learned that Audrey was humble, kind, generous, the epitome of class, and loved by all who were lucky enough to have her in their lives. She chose motherhood over Hollywood, was close friends with Hubert de Givenchy, and worked with UNICEF to help starving children across the world. She said, “Never let yourself grow up believing that…anybody is any different from anybody else…we’re all the same.”
Richard Dreyfuss said of her, “She was the best that we could possibly be. She was perfectly charming and perfectly loving. She was a dream; she was the dream that you remember when you wake up smiling.”
Thinking back now, I realize that this all seems very materialistic, this desire for elegance and glamour. But what we really dreamed of that day in Circe was not just to own those pretty things, but to own what they represent—a life of genuineness, poise, grace, love, generosity, and beauty of soul. I believe in the strength of the human spirit and the goodness of mankind. I believe in Audrey.
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