In my last two days in quarantine, I started taking a lot of time lapses. This is how I have always tried to remember things: I take pictures of them. A picture depends on your camera as much as writing depends on your pen. My goal with pictures is not to capture as a scene how it looked but how it was—a small prompt for my memory. So: timelapses. I can’t take credit though: I inspired by a TikTok from a fellow quarantinee in the Ritz-Carlton, whose window I could actually see from mine.
So I set up my phone on my window and let it run for the duration of whatever I was doing. It served the dual function of forcing me to do my work and not scroll on TikTok, as well as giving me something to look at.
The interesting thing about timelapses is they see beyond you in a way a picture does not. A picture takes what is in front of you and transforms it in space, either through the light or the framing or the composition. A timelapse transforms what is in front of you in—shocker—time. It’s a mildly magical process, though. Timelapses take what is glimpsed out of the corner of your eye—the storm clouds rolling in, the sun setting—and concretizes them into visible processes. They prove what we always suspect, which is, the world is changing, and we are changing with it. Normally our only proof is looking around and realizing it all looks different than before. But the videos throw back the curtain on what happened in between.
What does this all mean? I don’t know, but when I think about pictures as my place-markers, these timelapses prove I was not just there for a static stopover, but that I lived and breathed and grew as the sky did. And as my hotel room fades to a memory from where I am now—back at home, in the bedroom where I spent a decade of my life—I want to keep that. I gained something, if only knowing I’m okay with myself, I’m okay with where I am, and I don’t know where I’d have been with another week in there, but this morning I got to stand in the rainforest and watch the sea at sunrise and hug a dear friend instead. And things happen as they happen, and there’s not much we can control except our own reactions to them, and my mother was right about most things, probably, but I’ll try to not tell her that too much. And I am so lucky in so many ways. To be gifted with as much love as I have been given, to have won all kinds of lotteries; I am overflowing with wealth, I am ruddy with it.
My favorite timelapse I took is one at sunset. It’s short because I was hungry and didn’t want to turn on the light until I stopped it so the reflection wouldn’t show up. For the most part nothing dramatic is happening—no lightning, no storm clouds. It’s subtle shifts: baby blue to baby pink, a shadow skittering over the edge of buildings. But it’s undeniable. Irrepressible. The turn of the world, bearing us all forward to, eventually, at the very end of it, a sky filling with stars.
This will be my last blog post, probably. My life in Singapore is that sweet midpoint between not boring enough to get me to write in the absence of any other activity, and not interesting enough to compel me to document things about it. Thank you to everyone who’s followed along the past two weeks! See