“For Chris’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 her time on earth was limited.
“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 evening gown to the sterling opener, which was affixed to a mahogany, monogrammed stand, and jammed the spiral into the top of the bottle. 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. Julia clutched the bottle to her breast, trying desperately to hold onto something that would 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 as a descendent of The Mayflower, led a life of privilege. 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. Her father, Edward Doty, was the head of an Investment Bank called, what else, Mayflower, which brought in more money than Goldman Sachs.
As a child, Julia was always being carted off to some private museum exhibition, a Sotheby’s auction or political dinner to support some rising Democrat or popular political figure. Regular attendance at Fifth Avenue Presbyterian was also a must, even though Julia spent her time in church responding to Jesus’s words in the Bible. 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.
From the time she was born, every moment of Julia’s life was completely controlled by others. It was all laid out for her well in advance. The beauty pageants, the television commercials, the society functions; even her playmates had to be children of important people. She liked to go down the slide with a funny Asian boy who attended the same elite private school, but her parents asked the school to separate them once they found out that, even though the 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.
The only pursuit of personal identity and independence Julia ever won was when she elected to major in Art History at Harvard. Harvard, where her father went and where she was, of course, expected to go as well. Her mother never went to college, but she was a Bixby, another Mayflower descendent, so that was enough during those days.
“Why would you ever want to major in Art History?” her mother asked with disapproving eyes. “Only hippies who amount to nothing study Art History.” Julia was able to convince her parents that the major was really more focused on the history side, which would keep her well versed in family heritage and make her an interesting person to her future husband. They reluctantly acquiesced and Julia spent most of her time at Harvard in classes like Ceramics, Painting and Sculpture.
Julia Doty met Kors Kennedy at Harvard. The tall, chiseled Sigma Chi President was a class ahead and already had the world in the palm of his hand. He wanted Julia in his palm too. Kors’s charm eventually won her over and they were married at Swedenborg Chapel in Cambridge the summer after Julia’s junior year.
“Kennedy is exactly the type of family we would choose for you and now your education is complete,” Julia’s father assured her. Her parents bought them a penthouse on the Upper West Side and life moved into fast forward. Julia never picked up a paintbrush or piece of clay again.
Kors entered the rag business and two years later they moved to Pacific Heights in San Francisco so that he could create his own clothing company. 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 had more money than the founders of Google.
Their daughter Summit was born at the height of their success. 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.
Three years after Summit was born, Julia became pregnant with Miles. She loved this child with her entire heart the moment his eyes met hers. Julia 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 self that would never realize her dreams 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, he had responsibility to carry on two enormous legacies and she would do all she could to help him. She would pour all of her dreams of freedom, authentic living and life on one’s own terms into her only son.
But then the unthinkable happened. Miles died from SIDS at one year and Julia never quite got over it.
From that point forward, Julia wanted nothing more to do with the idea of children and 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 Convent of the Sacred Heart and donated money as though she was her own bank. Julia became the queen of San Francisco’s elite and was the gateway to any new money that might want to break into the club. She kept her vibrant appearance with bi-monthly Botox and Juvederm injections, and was vigilant in keeping an ideal weight of 107 pounds on her 5’7 frame.
Julia had all that she could ever desire, but in her heart, she hated it all.
A few years after Miles death, Kors could tell that Julia needed a change so he ran an idea by her that he hoped would be a healthy distraction.
“Word has it I may be named Ambassador to Switzerland,” her husband said to her one evening after some gala she couldn’t remember. “Would you like to live in Switzerland, Julia, my dear?” Julia gagged at the idea of living in some far away place where her only job would be to make her husband look good in front of other dignitaries. Another cage that she desperately wanted to break free of.
At that moment, Summit walked into the room. She was in fourth grade.
“I love Switzerland Daddy. May I go with you?”
How Julia resented her husband for talking her into having children, and her daughter for being the child that survived. Julia couldn’t stand seeing her reflection. It was as though she was living a miserable life all over again.
“Of course, my precious princess. We can all go to Switzerland.” He winked at Julia, seeking agreement for Summit’s eagerness. Julia simply turned away and sipped her glass of Chardonnay. Kors knew this meant that Julia would never go. In fact, he knew that his wife would not agree to anything he wanted ever again – she blamed him for everything from not living her own life to having children and then losing the only one she loved. Julia had turned bitter.
Kors had tried to make his wife happy, and thought that society work and now, maybe Switzerland would help, but at that moment, he knew he had failed for good. Kors turned toward his daughter.
“Would you like to go to dinner with Daddy on Thursday night, princess?” We can go to Gary Dankos.” Gary Dankos was the most sought after reservation in all of San Francisco.
Julia had officially been replaced.