I have only seen one human being in over a week. Only one person that I have interacted with in any significant way since I arrived home from college. I forget I exist, mindlessly floating from one side of my hotel room to the other, with no one to remind me that my words and actions have some tangible impact on the world. Quarantine in Singapore is different. I am to wait out the two week incubation period of COVID-19 in a hotel room before I return to my family, ensuring their safety from the virus I could have invited home from college. It is an all-expenses-paid getaway, courtesy of Singaporean taxpayers, if you will. Except I am not getting away. I am stuck; suffocatingly alone and silent in this too-white hotel room I was ferried to upon touchdown. I try to drown out the static with music and college lectures – they don’t break my torpor, but at least it is not so quiet anymore.
Warm food is left at my door by an invisible man. I hear his light tread approach with the squeak of a cart in tow, the shift in pace as he slows just enough to place the tray in its designated spot and ring my doorbell, and then the disappearing sound of his footsteps and existence. When I open the door to collect my meals, the only signs that anyone has been on the luxurious red carpeting in front of my door just seconds before are the tray of food and the already disappearing impressions of my invisible man’s footsteps on the carpet.
Mornings and evenings are spent on the balcony with my coffee cup for company, listening for the sounds of a world that is utterly unreachable. Some mornings, my neighbor emerges from the glass doors of room 918 and leans against the railings of his balcony as I do- a stout Asian man, likely double my age. A “Hi” struggles to leave my mouth before getting caught behind my downturned lips as we make eye contact, and wordlessly we exchange an acknowledgement of the others’ presence. I look away quickly; it feels uncomfortable to be seen after spending so much time blending into the walls and sheets of my hotel room. We are lovers for two weeks only, sharing and relishing the three seconds of intimacy passed between our eyes in the morning sun. A thick, unspoken gratitude hangs in the air between our balconies, and I will never know his name.