“Reckless abandon” has never been a gear I could put myself in. The closest I came was when I was 21 and went through a Skins-fueled phase where I decided I would go all Jim Carrey in Yes Man and never say no to any experience I was offered. The only results were constant exhaustion, a bank account that bled money, and a single week in February when I hit rock bottom and took up smoking cigarettes to properly display my twentysomething angst. But even those few months were calculated; I made a conscious choice to be young and free, it didn’t come naturally.
I often wonder what it’s like to be someone who can act impulsively. Is stress even in your vocabulary? Do you act first think later, or is it that you think faster than me? How many times have you regretted something you’ve done off the cuff? Do you regret anything at all?
Holly Golightly is one of my favorite literary characters because she made up a whole life for herself and did whatever she wanted, whenever she wanted. She was unbound by so many of the rules that most of us are happy to live by. By the end of Breakfast At Tiffany’s she’s in fucking Africa! And it’s all because she’s terrified of something she can’t pinpoint, and she’s actively trying to find a place that makes her feel settled and satisfied, even though, deep down, she knows she’ll never arrive there.
I admire Holly in that she rarely wallows. I have a tendency to shut down when I’m overwhelmed, but Holly just looks through the Tiffany’s window or shoplifts or marries a rich Brazilian man. She’s constantly moving, never slowing down long enough to let consequences catch up to her.
Nearing the end of that novel, I was so mad at her because she abandons Cat in an alley on a rainy day to prove a point. And she explains herself by saying, “We belong to nobody, and nobody belongs to us,” and I remember thinking that was incredibly reckless and damaging not just to herself but to the cat, and that of course people belong to us because I know what it feels like to belong to someone. I still feel a tinge of anger thinking about that scene today, but I’m almost 24 now and her words make a little more sense. She wasn’t saying that we’re not allowed to feel loved or wanted or stable, she was saying that it’s fleeting and we should live our lives with a sense of urgency because of it.
So maybe it’s not reckless abandon I’m lacking, but rather urgency, the kind of urgency that makes you jump into things with both feet because for all you know the world could end tomorrow, and it’d be really sad to think I missed out on anything because I was too scared to move.