My cheeks are sunburnt a flush pink from the time I have spent sitting in front of the vast window of my quarantine room. From the 22nd floor, I have a striking view of the Bangkok cityscape. A trio of soccer fields is sprawled outside my window, an endless source of entertainment as I watch joggers in the morning circling the track and a rotating stream of soccer teams practicing and competing. From my window in the last week, I contemplated what I took to be a parade or ceremony and watched a running race begin on the street below where everyone erupted in a sea of yellow. I admired a hardworking man repaint the lines in the grass. Every so often, a train will shudder past on the tracks below my window, brandishing a new and curious advertisement, the deep, gentle rumble comforting in its consistency. At night, I cannot bear to close the thick curtains, too mesmerized by the city lights.
This Christmas morning, I woke up in Bangkok. The first thing I did after opening my eyes was run to the window, the way I did as a kid hoping to see snow, but today, needing to see the city, the green to believe that my wish had come true. I am so utterly grateful to be here that I am not at all upset to be spending the holiday alone. All I wanted this year was to make it to Thailand, and I recognize the importance of my quarantine now that I am here. For the health and safety of the people of this country who have welcomed me during this time of crisis, I know that I am where I need to be. I could not ask for anything more.
The day passed without any fanfare, a quiet, peaceful day. I showered, opened two gifts from friends back home that I had tucked into my suitcase, and waited for the anticipated knock at my door letting me know that my breakfast had arrived. Though it is 80 degrees here, out of a place of tender nostalgia, I did order hot chocolate today because it reminds me of home. For many, today is a massive celebration. This year, it is just another day. Fourteen hours behind Thailand, most families in the U.S. have not yet woken up, haven’t put the cinnamon rolls in the oven, haven’t started opening presents. The day has nearly ended for me before it has even begun back home, and I think of all the excited kids waking up about now with fondness, but I do not miss the snow.
Though I am confined to a single room in a vast new world, I have made it to the brink of a new adventure. I can see palm trees and city lights. That is all the holiday magic I need.