Outtake From September

Maggie and Newspaper

From a shoot Maggie and I did for her Mafia Trivia night at Pizza Lucé. We’d both gotten up early to be there before they opened for the brunch crowd, and the manager was lovely enough to bring us a whole pot of coffee (not to mention later, gluten-free eggs benedicts) while we clambered all over his restaurant.

Once we’d finished balancing poor Maggie on towers of canned tomatoes and dangling her off the booth — some legitimately dangerous poses that she managed to make look totally comfortable, in heels — we noticed the lipstick on her diner cup. “That is the classiest thing I have ever seen,” I said. “All you need is a newspaper.”

Miss you, Maggie.

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Giving Thanks

Most of my Thanksgivings as an adult have been away from home; some motley crew assembled by one friend or another, a college cafeteria full of international exchange students, a boyfriend’s family with their baby chickens running in the yard. I love my family and I miss them, but I’ve come to feel that there’s something about being the Stranger that makes the spirit of Thanksgiving feel all the more potent. To usher one another in, to be ushered in; to receive, and to give, as family. (With who, again? “I’m sorry, I didn’t catch it the first time; what was your name?”)

We set a table with stolen linens in someone’s sister’s dining room to make it feel like home. On the television, the football game played. “Do you like sports?” the guy sitting on the couch asked. “I like the way they sound,” I said, drawing my feet into my chest like a kid. “Like my grandparents’ house after they tucked us in.”

“Glass of wine or vodka?” Marie asked.

“Woo hoo!” everyone replied.

Full album of Thanksgiving with Kent and Marie and friends: here.

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Whatever You Need

We met Michael by following a volunteer demolition crew to his mother’s home. His family lost four houses in the storm. Around Staten Island, we learned, most family members live within blocks of each other, so when one home is affected by something like this, odds are your whole support network is.

“You sure you want to drive all the way out there with us?” The demolition crew asked. “It’s far. Like, a six, maybe seven minute drive, easily.”

Michael’s story: here.

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Different World

We met JD in his driveway, washing his parents’ car — he pointed toward his own car on the street, which was caked in mud. “Yeah, a lot of the cars are getting washed today,” he said.

His home is still without power, almost three weeks after the storm. There was a “restricted use” sign on their door, but his family is living there: he and his siblings and his parents and his grandparents all sleeping in one room upstairs. I asked him if this didn’t feel incredibly crowded and claustrophobic. “It’s okay,” he said, “because it gets cold. We all snuggle up.”

JD’s story: here.

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Not Just One House

Meg and I saw Linda and her husband working in their yard from the street, and hesitantly stepped onto the flattened chain link fence to ask if they’d be interested in talking to us about how the storm affected them. “Sure,” they said. “But here, come in through the gate.” The gate to their yard was the only part of the fence left standing; they’d secured it against a garbage bin.

She invited us inside, where a orange flames crackled in the fireplace, and her two dogs happily and persistently licked at our jeans. “All of my Christmas decorations,” she said. “I thought they were in the attic, but they were in the storage unit outside. I have seven kids and I got each of them an ornament when they were born. Just, swept away.”

Linda’s story: here.

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