Nisrine is confined to the balcony — not because of a pandemic. Madame has simply ordered her to not leave the house. Though Balcony Nisrine (the nickname I've given her) is a character in a book and this lockdown is my reality, I struggle to decide which scenario is worse. I always judge a book by two things: the cover and the first line. I subconsciously chose the book while skimming aisles of a Dollar Tree over a year ago. It reminds me of me: a hardcopy with an unfussy cover. A simple appearance to contrast complex inner contents. (It being a one dollar is a plus.) To my expectation, the first line of the story piques my interest. But the book doesn't get opened until my brain is cornered, two weeks into the lockdown when I finally decide to do something more productive than: Watering my succulents (all nine of them died a month into the lockdown from overwatering); color-coding my already–color-coordinated closet; video calling people who I never had a substantial relationship with prior to 2020; and watching DIY videos on YouTube. (I've learned how to give a mediocre self-pedicure, make banana-oatmeal cookies, and use toilet paper to remove stains from white sneakers.) I read the first page of the book in full. Then the second section. I read the opening line of that second section again. The rains came to the foreign city with red skies. I like that the sentences are short, gentle, and poetic. I continue reading and make substantial progress the first two months during lockdown. But I abandon the book because I begin an unexpected romantic relationship with a friend. Developing a romantic relationship during a pandemic is trending. Everyone I know is suddenly in a relationship. But I believe this is mainly because solitude inclines hearts to grope for love, or anything related to it, even if only on the surface and from a distance. I am not the exception. But the policeman in the book is. He has access to family and colleagues. He has the entire city in the palms of his hands. Yet his heart gropes for unreachable Nisrine — her balcony existence. Much like the pandemic, my relationship is precarious and transient. I fall in love with someone who will eventually be a fiancé until he decides that he isn't ready to be with me; the pandemic made him do it. And, just like that, the number is deleted; the ring is gone; the pandemic is dwindling; I return to the office and remove the “Congratulations” balloons, toss the engagement ring streamers, insistently thank my boss for the expensive gift he bought us when “us” was a thing — but I keep the “Newlyweds Forever” mug for heating up ramen. But I digress. Reading about someone falling in love who is confined to a balcony is hopeful during a pandemic. I stop reading the book right after the policeman risks his life to show love to Balcony Nisrine. Before the vaccination and the proposal. Before the in-laws meet. After we share a non-Facetime first kiss. (The phone is inert; his lips, dynamic.) Why that relationship at that time? Because Balcony Nisrine motivates me. Because the lockdown circumstances have ironically become the ideal ( — remote love is better than no love, right?). Because I haven't gotten to the part where war breaks out and Balcony Nisrine returns to her home country and takes her heart with her. The part where virtual conversations triumph in-person dialogue because we've forgotten how to socialize independent of technology. The part where the policeman cries himself to sleep at night. The part where proposals become entertainment and relationships are a result of loneliness, not love. The part where you only remember how to love from afar. Actually, I don't know what happens after the policeman risks his life to visit Nisrine on the balcony because I haven't finished the book. Does Nisrine return home? Does the policeman cry himself to sleep? Who knows, but I do know that the lockdown made people hopeful. And that hope could either create or break a person's heart. And that I was part of the group who experienced the latter. The policeman has a heart that has ached for a woman he could only love from a distant. So, his solution is to risk. Go to her, even if prohibited. Even if loving her puts him at a disadvantage. Even if they both understand that the “right” time will never exist between them. He lets his heart grope for her though he knows the furthest she will go is the balcony. I used to pity Nisrine — stuck in the center of the city with nowhere to go but within. Now I envy her. Favor her fictional scenario over my reality. To have a slow, unexpected love that surpasses distance — deep and risky and unambiguous. Well, it could've been a result of loneliness, not love. But since I don't plan to finish the book, I technically don't know if Nisrine and Policeman's love ever ends. And that is reason enough to envy Nisrine.