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The People You’d ‘Pay Admission’ to Know

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Welcome. I recently received a message on social media from a long-lost friend. We’d been inseparable in college, co-conspirators, ecstatic with newfound freedom that manifested in what, decades on, I see in a montage from a film that could be described as a “heartwarming coming-of-age caper”: Gossipy late-night dorm-room study sessions. Swapping clothes. Dancing deliriously at an on-campus concert of the Village People. A spring break trip to New York where we bought matching wool berets and wore them to what to us was the city’s coolest nightclub, the Limelight.

We drifted apart, without malice, before graduation. When I heard from her this week, I thought of a gorgeous profile of Mike Nichols by Peter Applebome that appeared in The Times in 1999. The piece is full of superlative descriptions of Mr. Nichols from all his colleagues, but it’s the portion in which Mr. Applebome quotes Mr. Nichols’s wife, Diane Sawyer, that stayed with me:

He is so skilled a conversationalist and raconteur that Ms. Sawyer reflects the consensus when she says, “Sometimes I feel I should be paying admission.”

That is how I felt about this college pal: So delightful and fascinating and brilliant was she that I’d have paid admission to be in her orbit. I think about Ms. Sawyer’s comment frequently, how perfectly it encompasses my feelings for the people I love the most, those whose company feels like a privilege. The people whose opinions I so respect that it feels as if their love for me somehow increases my worth.

It’s a good time, I think, to consider those people in your own life, those you’ve known or still know, perhaps a partner or a child or even a pet, whose very being is so valuable to you that you feel lucky to have an audience with them, to spend your life or a few moments or a few hours on the phone or a video chat with them. Those who’ve passed out of your life for whatever reason, whom you miss but are better for having known. Think about telling them, if you can. If you’ve lost touch with them, think about what reconnecting might feel like.

Tell us: Who are the people who make you feel that you should be “paying admission”? What are you thinking and what do you want to know? Write to athome@nytimes.com. We’re At Home. We’ll read every letter sent.

Thanks to all who sent us the games that have been entertaining them during quarantine. Dan in Portland, Ore. is playing the open-universe space exploration game “No Man’s Sky.” Avery in Kentucky enjoys the community aspects of Animal Crossing. Karen’s playing the board game Forbidden Desert. Elyse took her in-person bridge game online. Many are enjoying Scrabble, Mahjong, Rummikub, Spelling Bee. We love hearing from you and appreciate the recommendations!

And, as always, more ideas for living a good life at home and near it appear below.


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Credit…Nicole Rifkin
  • The 19th amendment declared that the right to vote in the U.S. could not be denied on the basis of sex. On the 100th anniversary of its ratification, we spoke with 11 women — including Billie Jean King, Betty White and America Ferrera — about what suffrage means to them.

  • Join the architecture critic Michael Kimmelman for a virtual walk through the Queens neighborhood of Jackson Heights with Suketu Mehta, a New York University professor and the author of “Maximum City: Bombay Lost and Found” and “This Land Is Our Land: An Immigrant’s Manifesto.”

  • And among the new books we’re looking forward to in September are the second novel from the Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Ayah Akhtar, a memoir from Mariah Carey, and Yaa Gyasi’s follow-up to her highly acclaimed debut novel “Homegoing.”


Credit…Caitlin Ochs/Reuters
  • Originally scheduled to take place at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, the 2020 MTV Video Music Awards will now be held in outdoor locations across New York’s five boroughs. The show will air on Sunday at 8 p.m. E.T., with Lady Gaga, Ariana Grande and The Weeknd expected to perform.

  • You may know Armando Iannucci’s work from the films “In the Loop” and “The Death of Stalin.” His latest is “The Personal History of David Copperfield,” which the critic Jeannette Catsoulis says is “a souped-up, trimmed-down adaptation so fleet and entertaining that its cleverness doesn’t immediately register.” And don’t miss this interview with the film’s star, Dev Patel.

  • And in his new documentary “Nomad,” Werner Herzog pays loving tribute to his friend, the writer and explorer Bruce Chatwin. Herzog visits sites around the globe that were meaningful to Chatwin, the author of 1987’s “The Songlines,” including Patagonia, Australia and Antarctica.


Credit…Katherine Tracey/Avant Gardens
  • The “In the Garden” columnist Margaret Roach spoke this week with a succulent specialist about how to get started growing the low-maintenance plants. One of her tips: Forget regular potting soil. Instead, use a cactus mix, which provides better drainage.

  • When the writer Christen Madrazo took her husband and their son to live with her parents during quarantine, she didn’t expect that the new living arrangement would cause her to behave like a child seeking parental approval. This regression affected her relationship with her husband, leading her to conclude, “Figuring out marriage while parenting is hard. Figuring out marriage while parenting in front of a live audience of in-laws is even harder.”

  • And if your skin’s beginning to look dull, take some advice from dermatologists on how to get a healthy glow.


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