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The People You’d ‘Pay Admission’ to Know


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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