"I only drink champagne on two occasions. When I'm in love, and when I'm not." -Coco Chanel
I think my very first memory of The Plaza was when I watched The Way We Were. I was young and watching the movie with my mother, who adores Robert Redford. In the final scene where Katie says, "Your girl is lovely, Hubbell" as she sweeps his hair from his forehead — their marriage now dissolved because they were never meant to be together despite loving each other (sigh!) — The Plaza is behind Hubbell.
While it may not be the center of the scene, it's there in all its iconic glory and I decided then that I'd be living there some day in that magical place, in an even more magical place called New York City.
When I moved to New York, The Plaza was one of my first stops. (Well, there and Bergdorf Goodman.) Although the hotel closed for roughly three years shortly after I got to the city, I knew I'd return to it for tea several more times in my life. I'd eventually stay there, ideally in one of the terrace suites so I could look out at Central Park or 58th Street and feel like I had achieved something with my life.
I finally had my moment on Sunday, December 6.
December 6, 2015 would have marked my two-year wedding anniversary with my husband. It was on a very cold day back in 2013 that we went down to the Town Clerk's office to get legally married, although our ceremony wouldn't be held until May of 2014 in Paris.
After we got hitched we went to Turtle Pond in Central Park, a favorite spot of mine, then had our first dinner as officially married people at Katz's Deli in the Lower East Side. It was, in many ways, just as magical as the day I moved to New York City and the first time I had tea at The Plaza.
But my husband and I didn't make it to our second anniversary. Sadly, things crumbled, he cheated on me with a child 28 years his junior, she sent me a poem, and I sent him a pile of horse sh*t, as one does when they've been severely hurt, disappointed, and have received a completely awful poem via email, because WTF?! (That is what one does, right?)
Once I wiped the tears from my face and pulled myself from the bed, I decided it was time to stay at The Plaza. I made the executive decision to book a terrace penthouse suite and invited my nearest and dearest to come celebrate with champagne, cupcakes, and macarons.
I wasn't going to let the demise of my marriage destroy me or let my soon-to-be ex and his poetry-writing, 20-year-old girlfriend break me; no, that wouldn't be the case. I was going to don a Monique Lhuillier tea-length, black lace dress, Vera Wang heels, red Chanel lipstick, a damn tiara, and party in a hotel room at The Plaza.
I was going to have my terrace overlooking 58th street, my view of the park out my bedroom, my two bathrooms, my living room, my sitting room, and my butler's station. Why? Because I deserve it.
I mistakenly married a man who wasn't just wrong for me, but failed me. I married a liar and a cheater. I married someone whom I'm likely to spend a decent part of my life regretting having ever known, let alone married and loved. But in the words of Coco Chanel, "I only drink champagne on two occasions. When I'm in love, and when I'm not."
I'm no longer in love, so champagne at The Plaza for all!
I realize some will look at a breakup or divorce party as a tacky affair. I, too, thought it was a little off color when I first heard of such a thing. However, once you're on the other side and have been put through the ringer, you realize you want to celebrate the new chapter in your life.
Why should I cry and mourn something that I've come to realize wasn't even a loss? This is my story and my ex doesn't get to write a single word of it. I'm the one who will do all the writing and it will be as extravagant, radiant, and glittery as any Fitzgerald novel.
So, I decided to end this chapter with a bang at The Plaza. That's what Fitzgerald would do. And I can't imagine having ended this chapter any other way.