You know what’s wrong with you, Miss Whoever-you-are? You’re chicken, you’ve got no guts. You’re afraid to stick out your chin and say, “Okay, life’s a fact, people do fall in love, people do belong to each other, because that’s the only chance anybody’s got for real happiness.” You call yourself a free spirit, a “wild thing,” and you’re terrified somebody’s gonna stick you in a cage. Well baby, you’re already in that cage. You built it yourself. And it’s not bounded in the west by Tulip, Texas, or in the east by Somali-land. It’s wherever you go. Because no matter where you run, you just end up running into yourself.
This is my favorite quote in the beloved Audrey Hepburn classic, Breakfast at Tiffany’s. It is one of the few movies I actually own, and also one I can watch time and again. Each time I watch it, I discover something new about it or simply watch it in a different light, and I fall in love with it all over again. It’s an honest portrayal of love, and to me, love is the feeling of warmth from the assurance and security of belonging. To achieve this sense of warmth and get a glimpse of real happiness, we must allow ourselves to be open to love. But is it worth loving if it also makes us vulnerable to the coldness of heartbreak?
The film shows that before love can be a two-way street, we must come to terms with our one-way struggle. We all have internal struggles, whether with our identities, our careers, our insecurities, our accomplishments, our past, or our fears. Sometimes we can get by, by playing it safe and retreating to our comfort zone – or in Holly’s case, by pushing everyone away and escaping to her safe haven at Tiffany’s. But we can’t expect to live – much less love – if we keep running away from the very things we are pining after. For Holly, it’s searching for the warmth of human intimacy, yet finding solace in cold, lifeless diamonds. It’s feeling afraid of being tamed, yet yearning for a sense of belonging.
As the title implies, to have Breakfast at Tiffany’s is not only absurd, but flat-out impossible. Likewise, there is nowhere we can go in reality to truly escape the pain, fear, and heartbreak we invariably encounter in our lives. Holly tries to do this, in moving away and starting anew, and even in dating a string of wealthy men who would certainly be able to give her the life she thinks she wants. But in the end, what she needs is right there in front of her, and it’s when she lets go of her pretenses and trusts Paul with her broken and neurotic heart, that they find belonging, warmth, and love.
Whatever our Moon River is, we must accept the fact that this dream maker might also be the source of our heart breaker. But if we’re after the same rainbow’s end, then let’s be unafraid of crossing it in style, my huckleberry friend.