“For Christ’s sake Kors, where’s the ’84 Silver Oak Cab? I know we have at least a case of it left; unless, of course, you gave it all to your Mayflower Society cronies. If it wasn’t for me, you wouldn’t even be in that club,” Julia added, as a reminder to her husband as to where his loyalties had better lie. She rummaged through the cavernous wine cellar, turning over several dusty bottles in search of her favorite red. “Jesus, it’s freezing in here.”
Julia was always cold. Not just because of the temperature controlled wine cave she and her husband had built with actual stones from a 16th century Italian castle, but because she had a premonition, a chilly feeling that something awful was going to happen. She had just told her daughter that she and Kors were getting a divorce, but she hadn’t even told Kors. She was about to.
“There you are,” she whispered, pulling the bottle out from the furthest corner of the cellar. She blew the thick dust off and watched it form into a huge cloud that made her cough as she inhaled. “I’ve missed you.”
Julia waltzed over in her Swarovski encrusted dress to the sterling bottle opener, which was affixed to a mahogany, monogrammed stand. She jammed the spiral into the top of the bottle and with one stiff pull, the cork was out. She tipped the nectar to her lips and guzzled a full glass before wiping her mouth with the back of her hand, scratching her lip with the five carat Harry Winston as she swiped. She clutched the bottle to her breast, trying desperately to hold onto something that could sustain her.
To the outside world, Julia Doty was stunning, a real beauty that had won Miss Jersey Shore at 13 and was featured on Soap, Suntan Lotion and Chicken Soup advertisements throughout her developing years. She was every boy’s girl next door, with her wavy sundrenched hair, hazel green eyes and a complexion that was clearer than the most perfect diamond.
She was an only child and a double descendent of The Mayflower. Her father, Edward Doty, was named after his distant ancestor, Edward Doty, who sailed over on the ship in 1620.
At age 20, Edward married Julia’s mother, Abigail Bixby, another Mayflower descendant, which made the house of Doty very powerful.
Julia’s father built up an Investment Bank over the years called, what else, Mayflower, which brought in more money than Goldman Sachs. Edward was proud of his accomplishments and his seat at the helm of New York society.
The family home was a 9,000 square foot penthouse apartment on East 74th that bordered Central Park. A 10,000 square foot house at the shore was kept for summer jaunts and weekend getaways.
As a young girl, Julia was regularly carted off to private museum exhibitions, high teas with blue haired ladies and political dinners to support some rising conservative or another. These were events not meant for a child, but she was required to do her part to keep up the family’s image in the public eye.
Trips to the shore were always overflowing with dignitaries and people of importance. They rarely brought their children along, so Julia found ways to entertain herself in the summers by chasing crabs, making shell sculptures and even designing a line of seaweed shawls that she would wear around the house and then return to the ocean when they began to smell.
During the school year, regular attendance at Fifth Avenue Presbyterian in New York City was a family requirement. Manhattan’s old money showed up most Sunday mornings. Down the street was St. Patrick’s Cathedral where the less desirable Catholics converged. Julia’s father told her never to marry a Catholic. Of course Julia heard just the opposite.
Julia spent her time in church arguing with Jesus’s words in the Bible rather than listening to the sermon, which always ended with the words ‘give until it hurts.’
Though shalt not steal. What about money from my parent’s – that’s not really stealing. Love thy neighbor. You’ve got to be kidding me! I don’t even know my neighbors. My parents pretend they’re not there, unless their names is Rockefeller, Carnegie or descendant of the Mayflower.
From the time she was born, others controlled every moment of Julia’s life. It was all laid out for her well in advance. The beauty pageants, the advertisements, the society functions; even her playmates had to be children of important people.
Julia liked to hang out with a funny Asian boy who attended the same elite private elementary school on the Upper East Side, but when her parents found out, they asked the school to separate the children. Even though the boy’s family was rich, the father had come over on a boat from Vietnam at age 15 without a dime to his name. He was new money and that wasn’t the type of people the Doty’s associated with. Julia was embarrassed and devastated that she had lost her best friend. Embarrassment and devastation grew into solidified emotions that stayed with her as she matured.
The only sense of personal identity and independence Julia ever had was when she elected to major in Art History at Wellesley, a gothic all girls college outside of Boston where the underlying goal of every girl there was to marry a Harvard boy. She loved art so much and convinced her father that it was really the history part of art history that appealed to her.
“How else will I become well versed in our heritage and be able to attract the right kind of man?” she asked her father when he demanded she major in Home Economics. He relented and Julia spent as much time as she could on sculpting, painting and creating during her time at Wellesley. She could care less about history or husbands – she was free.
But then along came Kors Kennedy, the tall, chiseled Sigma Chi Fraternity President at Harvard whom she met at a college party. He was two years ahead of Julia in school. Kors already had the world in the palm of his hand and wanted Julia in his palm too. His charm quickly won her over and they were engaged within the year. Didn’t her father tell her years ago that she couldn’t marry a Catholic? Fortunately, the families agreed to the union and Kors and Julia married at Swedenborg Chapel in Cambridge the summer after Julia’s sophomore year. Every Mayflower descendent on the Eastern Seaboard attended. The festivities went on for days and every major media outlet covered the extravaganza.
Secretly, Julia had doubts about giving up her own dreams for marriage, but she had been taught to obey and so she did.
She did love Kors in the beginning. He seemed supportive of her art and even made her a studio in the Upper West Side Penthouse that her parents had bought them for a wedding gift. But soon, life moved into fast-forward and her needs were put on hold.
Kors entered the rag business, and within two years they had moved to Pacific Heights in San Francisco so that he could create his own clothing company, generously funded by Julia’s father’s bank. The 8,000 square foot Georgian Manor they bought on Broadway was modest but had history. A Getty had lived there until now.
Kors spent the next ten years creating and expanding Kennedy Couture into the most successful men’s custom tailored clothing franchise this side of the Mississippi. They soon had more money than the founders of Google. Julia stopped creating art. There wasn’t time for it anymore.
Summit was born at the height of their success. However, she was unplanned and Julia wanted to abort.
“My dear Julia, how could you ever consider such a thing? You were born to be a mother and for God’s sake, you are already showing. What will our circle think of us – of you?” Guilt and shame were powerful emotions, and as all good girls do, Julia collapsed under their weight. She promised her husband that she would have the baby, even though she knew it would mean the end of any hope for an authentic life of her own. It’s one thing to put her desires on hold for her husband, but a baby? That was a prison sentence. She wouldn’t be able to go to his galas anymore now that a baby would demand her every waking moment. And what about the possibility of going back to her carefree existence of making art? She knew it would never happen. Depression and darkness overcame her but of course she didn’t tell a soul.
Three years after Summit was born, Julia became pregnant with Miles. While she blamed Summit for stealing her freedom, the opposite occurred when her son was born. Julia instantly loved the boy the moment his eyes met hers. She knew it wasn’t fair for her to love one child and not the other, but she couldn’t help it. She saw too much of herself in Summit, the life of a girl who would never realize her dreams because of men’s priorities and power in life, and so she rejected her daughter, just as she rejected her own life. But something about having a boy was different. He was a Kennedy and a Doty, a double legacy. He had the world by the tail just by being born. Yes, he had the responsibility to carry on the family heritage, but he also had the opportunity to lead a life of his own choosing and she would do all that she could to help him. Julia knew at that moment that she would pour all of her dreams of freedom, authentic living and life on one’s own terms into her only son. She was happy again and busied herself with plans for her blessed Miles.
But then the unthinkable happened. Miles died from SIDS at one year of age and Julia never recovered.
From that point forward, Julia wanted nothing more to do with children, and instead, threw her energy into San Francisco Society. Anything to escape the hell she was living.
She became President of the San Francisco Ballet, held seats on the Boards of Directors of the de Young Museum, the Palace of Fine Arts and MoMa and doled out money as though she was her own bank. Julia Kennedy became the ruthless queen of San Francisco’s elite – the gateway to any new money that might want to break into the club. She kept up her vibrant appearance with bi-monthly Botox injections, and was vigilant in keeping an ideal weight of 107 pounds on her 5’7 frame.
Julia reigned, but in her heart, she hated them all.
Kors walked into the wine cellar, still dressed to perfection in his Armani Tux and Cole Hahn slippers. He had a Jameson and Ginger in his hand to sooth his nerves after a long evening of political talk with the Vice President of the United States who hinted at a Swiss Ambassadorship. Kors was actually excited about the idea, but exhausted from all the prep about foreign affairs and tax evasion details he had to understand as it related to his potential new country.
“Julia, my love. What is it you needed?” Kors asked as he poured himself into one of the high back leather chairs situated around the long mahogany table made from some ancient tree in Europe. He was lost in thought as he sipped his cocktail.
“Who me?” Julia asked innocently. “I was just looking for the Silver Oak.”
“Let me help you,” he offered, and grabbed a long stemmed Riedel glass from one of the cherry cabinets above the granite bar.
“No, I’m fine.” Julia turned away and took another large swig from the bottle. “I like it this way.”
“But Julia, you aren’t letting the wine breath properly. It’s an expensive bottle and it should breath first.” Kors was slightly annoyed, but was a master at hiding his emotions. Julia, on the other hand, was not.
“What do you know about breathing? I can barely even breathe around here anymore. Don’t you know that?” Her voice raised an octave at the end and she didn’t care who heard.
Kors knew what would come next. His wife would rant and rave about her unfulfilled, caged life and how sad she was that she lost her only son, and then she would fall into a heap of tears and spend the next week in bed.
“Darling, can I get you a Valium? It’s been a long evening and it will help you calm your nerves.”
“A pill? Is that what you think I need?” She weaved with the wine bottle clutched tight in her hands. “I need a life, that’s what I need. I am a Doty for God’s sake – doesn’t that mean anything to anyone? I matter. Do you understand? I matter. Not you, not anyone else. Me. Me! I matter and no one even cares.” The tears began to well. Kors prayed that she would pass out soon and that he could put her into bed and then get some sleep in the guest room. He had a big day in front of the Board of Directors tomorrow. He was about to announce his temporary successor so that he could accept the Ambassadorship. Besides, he wanted to call Clarissa, the secret love of his life who ran the nation’s largest Internet Company, to tell her the great news. But for now, Kors knew he needed to soothe his wife.
“My dearest Julia. Of course you matter. You matter the most. You are my princess, my everything.” She knew he was lying. He always lied.
“I made you what you are today, you idiot. It if wasn’t for my family name and connections, your stupid clothing store would have never gone anywhere. You would be a nobody. You owe it all to me. And what do I get? I get you flirting with that new technology CEO at every function we have been at for the past two years. I know you are having an affair. After all I have done, all I have given up, the loss of my only child.”
It made Kors sad to know that Julia rejected Summit, him, her life. But he was at the end of his rope and didn’t know what to do. He couldn’t take much more of it either.
Julia lifted the half drunk bottle of red wine, threw it at her husband and screamed, “I want a divorce,” and then fell into a heap on the floor.