Inside Katie Holmes’s New Life

Friends say she and daughter Suri are celebrating life without Tom Cruise with ice cream and rekindled relationships with old pals. By Paula Froelich.

Craig Barritt / Getty Images

In the end, it was her desire for normalcy—for herself and her daughter—that drove Katie Holmes to leave Tom Cruise.

“Katie leaving Tom was truly about Suri going to school and having a normal life,” a Holmes family friend told The Daily Beast.

Holmes was unnerved that Cruise’s two other children, Connor and Isabella, were home-schooled before attending the Scientology Delphian School, a boarding school in Oregon. And although Scientology and her relationship with Cruise was unpopular with her Catholic family, Holmes, 33, remains close to her Toledo, Ohio-based parents Kathleen and Martin, and her siblings: Tamera, 44, Holly, 43, Martin Jr., 42, and Nancy, 38.

“Katie saw all of her nieces and nephews going to school and having normal childhoods and she realized she wanted her daughter to have a normal childhood as well,” the family friend added.

Suri is now six–an age where other kids have already socialized with other children, attended nursery school, kindergarten and are entering the first grade. Suri has had none of those experiences. While the six-year old has traveled the world, she hasn’t attended a formal school program and is only photographed in the company of her parents–a lonely existence for a child. The divorce action is “about a mother making decisions for her child,” the family friend added.

Representatives for both Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes declined to comment for this story.

Suri’s new home is a three-bedroom, high-floor apartment in the luxury Chelsea Mercantile Building in Manhattan’s Chelsea neighborhood on the West Side. It boasts a full-time doorman, a concierge, valet service for cleaning, storage, a gym, a children’s playroom and a 10,000 square foot landscaped roof deck with a view of the Statue of Liberty.

“This building has everything she could ever want and she doesn’t really ever need to leave,” said a Chelsea Mercantile resident.

“Katie loves New York,” her friend said. But when asked if Holmes was looking for schools and if Suri will enroll in New York City, the friend cryptically answered, “Who knows if she’ll stay in New York? But she’s there for now. She has friends in New York and likes the vibrancy of the city.”

Holmes appears to have plotted her escape from Cruise and Scientology with a precision that rivals any military move. “She moved in here in early June,” Holmes’s neighbor said.

“[Tom] knew that she moved there, but [he thought it was] for different reasons,” a source told People magazine. “It was the first phase of getting everything out of the house, and that’s why she was able to say she’s moving without giving an indication that she was going to divorce him.”

“Her inner circle has been planning this and switching out cell phones since she was in China [in mid-June],” the source told People magazine. “New cell phones arrived, then nobody could reach her. Her old best friends from last week don’t have her new number, no email. She’s unreachable.”

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Friends from her life before Cruise are hopeful that Holmes’s move means she will be back in their lives. Many of them haven’t spoken to the star since the day she went to “audition” for Mission Impossible III at the Scientology Celebrity center–where she met Cruise.

“She would always come back [to Toledo] for weddings and bring [then-boyfriend] Chris Klein. It was fun,” said an Ohio woman who went to grade school with Holmes. “But the second she was with Tom–she stopped. It was weird. It was like she ceased to exist.”

The family friend concurred, adding, “People would speak to her daily–and then, all of a sudden–nothing. She went to meet [Cruise] under the guise of maybe being in Mission Impossible III and no one spoke to her for three weeks. The next thing you know she is dating Tom Cruise –not starring in “Mission Impossible III”–and then we didn’t hear from her at all.”

Holmes is now looking to her pre-Cruise friendships and contacts to shore her up for the divorce battle to come. Over the weekend, she fired her driver and security guards–all of whom used to work for Cruise–and replaced them with people who have no connection to her ex. Holmes then axed her PR rep, Ina Treciokas and went back to the team at BWR, repped by Nanci Ryder on the West Coast and Leslie Sloane Zelnik on the East. The firm represented her during her days on the TV show Dawson’s Creek.

And she has started branching out with her career, which was stymied during her marriage to Cruise. On Monday, she taped a stint on Bravo’s hit show Project Runway.

During the Project Runway shoot Holmes was “just really happy and relaxed,” an eyewitness said. “She talked with everyone and was really engaging with the designers. She had a wonderful time.”

Unfortunately, the good time didn’t last. Paparazzi followed her into her apartment building’s garage. “It was disgusting,” said the friend. “They sneaked into the garage claiming it was public property and accosted her.”

Holmes had specifically picked the building because it has a reputation of protecting the privacy of residents. Other high-profile celebrities, including Lance Bass, Marc Jacobs and Nick Jonas, have rented in the building. Other residents include Bobby Flay and his wife, actress Stephanie March, actor Kyle MacLachlan and his wife Desiree Gruber, and designer Brian Atwood. Ironically, another of Cruise’s exes, Penelope Cruz also owns an apartment in the building on the 10th floor.

“Katie loved that the elevator in the building goes straight to the garage so that she wouldn’t have to deal with the press waiting for her outside the front door,” another Holmes friend said.Now “lawyers are looking into [the garage privacy] issue,” the friend added.

Because of the paparazzi intrusion, the garage was cordoned off by police on Tuesday–angering some residents who were trying to get out of town for the holiday weekend.

“Some people feel that she owes the building an apology,” the resident told the Beast. “People’s holidays are being ruined because they can’t get their cars out of the garage!”

For now, Holmes appears happy with her new life. On Tuesday, Cruise’s 50th birthday, she took Suri for ice cream in the East Village and was spotted buying Fourth of July barbeque supplies at the Whole Foods grocery store in her building. Cruise, meanwhile, flew to Los Angeles from Iceland to spend his birthday with his other children, Connor and Isabella.