Model Apartment

My roommate is flying out tonight for a shoot in Chicago tomorrow. “Voucher book?” I ask as she packs her sneakers into her small carry-on. She grabs her vouchers, but decides to leave her hairbrush behind so a few more apples can fit, all while thumbing her smartphone. “Yes! There’s a Whole Foods by the hotel!” she exclaims, knowing she’ll be able to find some fuel upon landing.

We’re both vets in the modeling biz, and have known one another for years. We had a chance to split the rent on an apartment in Manhattan for the next few months, so we jumped on it. I’m thrilled to be so close to Midtown, where the majority of my go-sees and castings happen. It’s also a relief to save a bit of money on rent and food.

I have lived with models in the past, mostly in agency-run models’ apartments. From the Financial District to Midtown to Milan, all were nothing short of disastrous. Late nights, lots of partying and girls barely old enough to drive in and out of hospitals after overdosing on pills. I once carried a fellow model with alcohol poisoning back to our tiny studio in Jersey where we slept four to a room, while she violently threw up.

This time around, the apartment I live in isn’t agency run. Alison and I lead a low-key, quiet life. We happen to go to sleep around 8:30 or 9 every night, and wake up before the sun at about 5:30. One of us springs out of bed to turn on the coffee maker and we take about an hour to talk and wake up before we start getting ready to head out on castings or to a shoot. Our fridge is stocked with all kinds of fresh produce, provoking my roommate to say, “I get so happy every time I open our fridge! It’s a happy fridge!” The pantry has supplements from amino acids to digestive enzymes, fish oil, probiotics and electrolytes, as well as chia powder. Every now and then a bag of apricots or figs is out on the table and we gradually devour every last one. Our diet is about eating to fuel ourselves efficiently with nutritionally dense and affordable food— with as much pleasure as possible.

The best parts of our living situation are the homemade “model meals” we regularly share. A hot bowl of pureed leek soup and a sweet potato with cayenne and paprika were placed in front of me a few nights this past week and it was nothing short of one of the most delicious things I’ve ever eaten. Our dinners are drawn out, as we sit and laugh and talk, reenacting funny moments that happened throughout the day or reminiscing about our similar Midwestern upbringings. We were both sort of oddballs in our hometowns and come from modest homes. Our little family dinnertime is a comfort for me: no judgment, no stress, but so much laughter and joy.

My living situation has, until recently, been one of my greatest challenges. This is yet another neighborhood and the fifth move for me since last year. Food is also a major preoccupation, because my physique is so central to my career. Neither of those problems has been completely solved. My accommodations are temporary and my income is still dependent on my size. I have, however, found a friend with whom I share my struggles. As healthy as our habits may be, nothing is more essential to happiness as good people and positive relationships. Over a year ago I made it a priority to never eat dinner alone. The ability to achieve that goal has made this a good winter, despite the difficulties.

Ph: Breaking Fad 01.17.14 Isaac Harris

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