Wednesday, 17 October 2012

You're my woman of the century

Hello there, my big sister, my queen, my twin, my sexier half, my better self, my whole world!



In 1974, you went on a talk show hosted by a man named Dick Cavett. You came into the set and sat down. "I don't like your furniture." You said. You carried a coffee-table to the front of your chair so that you'd have a place for your feet to go up.  It was a two-hour special, and in that time window, you floored your host and your audience. By the end of the interview, Cavett, in awe of everything about you, asked if you had any advice for the rest of his life. "Dick dear," you said, "be fascinating."

Why, Kate, it's not as easy for us as it is for you. 

Fascinating is certainly the best word there is to describe you. Because, how do we even attempt to condense your gigantic personality into one single word? You never liked single words. You never liked short speeches. You liked being in the presence of talkers and listeners. And you were, more often than not, both. 

I'm sorry I barely ever talk to you anymore. 

I find that looking up at the sky, imagining your face smiling back at me and thinking you can hear and understand me gives me great comfort. I feel some things and I do some things that only you would understand, Kitty-Kat. Only you could tell me that it's okay, that you feel exactly the same way. 

One would think our conversations would be awfully unilateral. Maybe they are. Maybe I'm writing and talking to the air, I don't know. Maybe I don't speak to you. But, you certainly speak to me. And how lucky I am that you do. You were a remarkable human being, Katty


On the silver screen, no one can touch you. Four Academy Awards. Twelve nominations. How do I begin to describe your energy and presence? You had personality, Kat, you had magic! To see you in the movies is to enter a ride as unpredictable as it is extraordinary. It's to fall in love with a character you made human, you brought to life, to whom you gave flesh and blood. How fascinated I was. How I marveled at your talent, how I wondered how you transmitted such immortal and timeless emotions to me. You knocked me silly on your very first scenes. You could do anything.

You took charge of your own career and your own life. It went wherever you aimed it to. Why have managers treating your talent and your dreams as if it were their business? Sure, Leland tried to help you. He was a good agent and a good boyfriend, but all he did was lead you to your box office poison period. No, Kay, you couldn't be bossed around. You couldn't be tamed into a regular actress. It's you career, it's your life, it's your decision. This was your philosophy for, well, everything. 

What I didn't know (yet) was that behind that superstar façade, there lay a very normal girl, from a family with a certain amount of means, who didn't like parties, loved thinking and led an extraordinarily independent life. You see, Kitty Kat, we're not that different. Indeed, we are strikingly similar. You and I are absolute oddballs. And I think you realized, Kitty, that people find it easier to judge and ostracize the different, instead of taking time to understand and respect. I used to quake inside, terrified of external judgement, what will they think if I don't grow up to become the person they expect me to be? But, I always knew that there was a force of nature inside me, waiting to be used. I could do so much more than I was given credit for and I knew it, but there was only one barrier: Fear.

Sounds familiar? Well, our stories are pretty much the same, except for one detail. You unleashed yourself. You let yourself fly. You looked at the world and you said this is me! Take me or leave me! This is who I am and I will not apologize anymore! Little by little, I learned to do the same. 



The truth is I adore you. I adore that flaming red hair that curled tighter every year. I adore those green eyes shaped exactly like little baby fish. I adore that interesting mouth and how it points down instead of up, like you're constantly frowning at the world. I adore that strong body that did what you told it to. I adore that voice and accent that I could spot from miles away. I adore that brain that carried a million ideas per minute. I adore that heart no one ever gave you credit for. I adore what you've done for me and I adore the person you helped me become. 

Never quit. Be yourself. Never add to much flour to your brownies.
These three sentences have afforded me a happier and more fulfilled life since the moment I found out about you. It's about decluttering, uncomplicating your life. The simplicity of them mirrors very well the simplicity of the way you looked at life. It was there, it was a gift, it was supposed to be lived to the fullest, in whatever way one wished. Except if one wishes to put too much flour on one's brownies. Then, catastrophe!

Which is why no matter how many icons, role models, whatever you want to call them, come into my life, you will always be number one. I'm inspired by many people and I relate to another few, but none of them struck me quite like you did. And I'm confident to say that what I feel for you is a deep affection, a very strong love. Because what is love if not an appreciation for wonderful times spent together, beautiful memories and priceless lessons? You have unknowingly given me all of that. And I can only give you love in return.  

Life was easy for you. You were fascinated by it. What an adventure it must've been, to be in the world with a mind like yours. You looked at everything with interested eyes, you saw every day as a beautiful journey and you thought every waking moment of your life was an opportunity to do something new. You smiled at the face of challenge. You took action, you knew that life was not a spectator sport. Most people see in every opportunity an obstacle, you saw in every obstacle, an opportunity. 



And living as fully as you did, you were bound to have opinions. You knew what was wrong and right for yourself, you had your principles, you knew that there were things you did and there were things you didn't do, because they would hurt others. You stuck to your own morality. Your conscience was clean, and you made a point of keeping it that way. And when you thought something was wrong, you spoke out. You respected every opinion, but you made yours very clear. And for that you were hated by so many people gratuitously. But, hey, don't feel bad, Kitty-Kat. So am I. Aren't we all?

That's why some people (misinformed people, you and I know all about that) think that you had a problem with difference. Alas, Kay, you adored difference! Difference was the taste of life, and didn't you know it! You, as a human being, had an innate need to be marveled. You fished the entire world for the sources of true fascination, for the things, the people and the places that would fill your eyes and your mind. You found that fascination with all things different, all things unique, all things peculiar. 

And you demanded respect in every single circumstance. Respect for yourself, respect for others, respect for all living things, that under your eyes, were equals. If one has flesh, bones, a beating heart and the decency of spirit to call one's self "human", one deserved the utmost respect. It's ideas that simple that will wind up changing the world for the better. I'm so sorry you won't be able to see it, but I know the future will grant us the changes you foresaw and hoped for with all your heart. 

That's all you've ever wanted, Kate. To improve the world. And yet because you drifted away from traditional values and morays, they called you a bad example. You were no such thing. Unorthodox, yes, but with a heart and a mind of solid gold. 


And your friends, Kay? They would give their lives for you! You didn't have very many of them, you were a private person by essence, but when you did let someone into your world, they seldom wanted to leave it. You grabbed their hearts with a great deal of ease, and they never wanted them back. You were a firm believer that actions spoke louder than words. You had a great affection for Bogie. But, again how could you not? You were made to be the perfect friends. Both with high moral standards, zero tolerance for injustice and both with a certainty that without discipline, there's no life at all. You understood each other. You could be yourself with him. And so much so that when he passed, you attended his funeral wearing a skirt. That was your way to show him, wherever he was, that your very essence had been shaken by his loss. Betty Bacall was in tears. And, soon enough, on her knees for you. 

Your habit of showing people how much you cared about them didn't extend only to friends. How could you keep the most important person of your life from knowing how much he meant to you? When Spencer was too sick and thought he couldn't finish Guess Who's Coming To Dinner, you took his hand in yours and you said "Yes, you can. I'm here for you." I don't think the world has enough red roses to say "I love you" as effectively as you did with that one simple action.  

You had an enormous heart that no one quite recognized. I remember a noteworthy experience I had with you. One thing I love to do is listen to you reading your book, because that book represents how much you've taught me about life, and to listen to it in your voice is the ultimate way to feel like you are talking directly to me. You talked about Luddy at one point.You were 84 years old and you had divorced Luddy when you were 26. You thought you never showed him how much you loved him back, and you regretted it.  Talking about him and your time together, you cried. 

58 years later, Katharine Houghton Hepburn, you cried. 



Brave. Courageous. Unafraid.
Those are three words often used to describe both you and what you epitomized in your day.
You put on your slacks, threw your hair up in a messy bun, covered your lips with layers and layers of coral lipstick and left the house freckle-faced and relaxed. Who was to say what you were supposed to wear? Who was to say what you were supposed to be? In a time of misogyny, you were a feminist. In a time of religious domination, you were an atheist. In a time of married housewives, you lived the greatest love affair in the world and (bam!) he didn't put a ring on it. 

You were ahead of your day, Kate. You brought into this world a mindset from the future, a mindset that would change it forever. And, not only that, you did what you wanted and  you faced the consequences. You wanted to be an actress? Good, now push yourself to perfection. You wanted to be famous? Good, now deal with the pressure and loss of privacy. You wanted to be with Spencer? Good, now deal with the judgement and the dirty, terrifying status of mistress. A mistress that loved like no wife could. 

"Press on," you used to say "we'll sweep the blood later!" It was like you phrased my thoughts better than I ever could. This was exactly the thought in my head every time I achieved anything important in life. Nothing worth having comes easy. Do I want it enough to not mind a little bloodshed? If so, press on! We can't have everything. We'll have this at the expense of that and that at the expense of this. Sacrifice is necessary.

And it didn't matter what they thought, you stood up for yourself. You had learned responsibility to recognize your own mistakes and to trust your own judgement. It didn't guarantee you the best decisions, but it guaranteed the clear conscience that you did everything you could. And every success and every failure was in your hands and your hands only. "Talk to me, I'm to blame!"


I must thank you for what you represented for the female cause.
You made your own choices, you paddled your own canoe, you said loud and clear that you needed no man to regulate or organize your life. You could do that, as you did all things, yourself. But yet you loved a man so much that you were on your knees for him. You had a fabulous life. You were feminine and you lived you femininity, you had fun, you did everything you liked to do. You were utterly happy. And yet you fought for your gender's rights. You broke the impression that believing in the feminist ideals means that you need to put your life, your love and your femininity on hold for that. You showed the world that feminism was nothing more than making choices - and not letting anyone put their fingers where it wasn't called for. 

You once said "We must put up with each other." You were famous for stopping on the side of the road if someone had a flat tire. Haha! Their surprise was hilarious! "You look and sound just like Katharine Hepburn!" "That's because I am Katharine Hepburn!" You helped people when they needed you. You were there with Spencer in the nights where he succumbed to drinking. Tears flowing from your eyes, you heard him scream at you, make fun of you and hurt you as much as words could hurt. You'd cry and cry and cry, and ask him to stop this, and don't you know what this drinking is doing to you?! You're not the Spencer I knew! You're not my Spencer! And in the next day, he'd realize what he did. He'd say he's so sorry, he didn't mean any of it, he loved you. You knew he was telling the truth. You knew he loved you back. He wasn't perfect, but you weren't either. And if you loved him, you had to put up with his flaws. Or else you didn't deserve his qualities. 

Your smile was a constant, like everything else about you. Katharine Houghton Hepburn, born in 1907. 
Happy by nature and by choice. 
Cared about the important things. Shrugged off the frivolities.
Didn't understand much of people, but was fascinated by them. 
Memorable. Unique. 
Did whatever she wanted to do. And did it well



In writing you a letter, I'm attempting to do the impossible: To express in words what you mean to me. 
You are my inspiration, you are my muse, you are my role model, you are the person I look up to as the ideal of what a woman and person should be. 
You may be long gone from the earth, but the memory of you will live on. Not the actress, not the feminist, not the politically active criticizer of all-things. But the human being. The independent, modern, strong, feminine, loving and unique human being. 

You know what else, Kathy? Despite your being loved (and hated!) by billions of people around the world, after 28 acting awards in 46 films in 62 years as an actress, being depicted in over 20 published biographies, 31 published biographic articles, ranking #1 in over 10 lists of greatest actresses of all time and even making the Guinness Book of Records, you are still mine. Yes, Katharine, you are perfectly and deliciously mine.

And I love you so.

I need to finish this letter now, not because I think I've said everything I had to say to you, but because I think I'll never be able to say it. Not the way I want it, not the way you deserve it.

I am most beholden to you in every way possible. No one could've done what you did for me, and, in my heart, you are immortal. Thank you for changing my life.

So long,
Marcela





This is my personal contribution to the Letter To The Stars Blogathon, which I am hosting alongside Frankly My Dear and In The Mood.
All the gifs in this post were made by me. 

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I was gonna wait longer to post this, but seeing as I haven't gotten any e-mails for the blogathon yet, I thought this would be a good incentive! Remember: alettertothestars@hotmail.com :D


UPDATE: I changed the name of this post to "You're my woman of the century". This phrase has a very strong meaning for me and my love for Katharine, so I decided it was more creative and appropriate.

11 comments:

  1. Oh my God! This letter is perfect! I will never write a better one to the blogathon and express so well what you expressed.
    And I'm sure you'll let yourself fly too, in your own way.
    Kisses!

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  2. This is so special, thank you :'-)

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  3. Oh my gosh, Marcie. Be right back, when I'm done recovering from the perfection and complete sincerity of this letter. You've set the bar too high, Marcie, everyone else's letters are going to look like broken Christmas tree lights compared to your letter. Who was it that said on tumblr that you're Katharine Hepburn? I agree with them. Everything you wrote there made me think, "Holy saints, but Katie was a lot like the Marcie I know." Congratulations, girl. This was fantastic.

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  4. Thank you so much, y'all! Putting up something as personal as this and getting such wonderful comments is certainly the best feeling in the world!

    @Lê: Thank you so very much! I'm sure your letter is gonna be just as wonderful, or better! Can't wait to read it! :)

    @Bette: I thank YOU, dear! <3

    @Nattie: Oh, darling, thank you oh-so-much! I can't wait to read everyone's letters, I hope I've inspired someone to do the best they can! It was an anon who said that, and I really liked his comment LOL Thank you again, Nattie, having you, of all people, say that means so much to me.

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  5. Oh my god I almost missed this post because it didn't apear in my dashboard as a new post.
    Thank you so much for sharing such a beautiful, personal and moving letter. I have to admit it had me almost in tears. Great work!

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    1. Thank you so much! This makes me very happy! <3

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  6. This is absolutely beautiful, Marcela! Could not say it better myself. That said, here's my submission:
    http://thegreatkh.blogspot.co.uk/2012/10/dear-katharine-hepburn.html
    I just couldn't top yours, though. :( Why do you have to be so awesome?!

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    1. thank you so much Maggie! I'm so glad you liked it! <3 Thanks for contributing, I was looking forward to reading yours :D

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  7. As I said before, this became marvelous after finished! I loved her appearance in Dick Cavett's show, too. She is a great role model for modern women!
    Kisses!

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  8. I liked how you began the post with her famous appearance on the Dick Cavett show. She was everything you said she was in your wonderfully-written letter.

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