My first roommate in New York, delivered to me via Craigslist 15 years ago, ended up becoming my best friend. This is a miracle, defying myriad ways New York and “meeting random people on the Internet” often conspire to wreak havoc on our lives. When we first met, I was just grateful that he listened to the same music I did, but our friendship deepened as time went on (college graduation, job changes, other weird early-twenties experiences, you know the drill).
We lived together for about four years before moving into separate apartments and since then, we’ve remained close, cohabitating briefly while staying in places like surf houses in Nicaragua, tiny Tokyo hotel rooms, and even a disgraced politician’s house in the Brazilian countryside (a story for another day…). This is all to say: I’ve spent a lot of time with this person and I know him very well, to a sentence-finishing, so-many-inside-jokes-it-borders-on-its-own-language degree. And yet! This month, I have discovered that there are still things about him that are surprising to me. And that’s because, due to the Coronavirus, we are roommates again.
The most amusing thing I’ve discovered was during week three, when he put his bicycle on a stand that turns it into a stationary bike so he can exercise indoors. During the middle of the day, he queued up a virtual spin class in the next room, put in headphones, and then, in the most endearing possible way, began loudly singing the lyrics to whatever song he was listening to, but only every fourth or fifth lyric, which gave his performance the effect of something like scatting, but somehow even more random-sounding. It was, in a word, absurd. I loved it. And it left me no choice but to sneak around the corner and covertly record a video to send to our group chat. When I showed him the clip after he finished riding, we laughed so hard it brought tears to my eyes. Not only did I not know this was something he did, he didn’t seem to know it was something he did either. Made it even better.
These moments started to be documented on Twitter pretty much as soon as self-isolation started—and since then, it feels like everybody has been noticing things about their cohabitators, en masse. Some people have had petty complaints, others have had neutral observations, and some (sadly fewer, let’s change that?) even have praise.
So now I want to know: If you are currently quarantined with other people, whether that be a romantic partner, friends, family, etc.—what have you noticed about them that you may never have, had we continued going about our merry lives? (And if you’re quarantined alone: what strange things have you noticed about yourself?)
Graphics by Lorenza Centi.