Wednesday, January 2, 2013

My 2012

This year has been a trip. Literally and figuratively. Ups and downs with my faith. Homesickness, loss and new adventure. Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, home, Rome, India, Nepal, Julian, Louis, and He Who Shall Not Be Named. Pad Thai, momos, masala tea, Burmese tea leaf salad. Fireworks, water fights, refugee camp hospitals, food poisoning, long flights, bar tattoos and all the moments of reflection in between.

My year started with the Urban Refugee Photo exhibit. A project I worked on for six months, doing photography trainings, searching out galleries, wooing journalists and NGO workers and wearing a dress. It might be my most proud moment for my work at JRS.

But my real 2012 –that is, life outside work, which is what this blog is mostly about– started with me meeting a wonderful fire-spinning poet I met on the Thai islands. We went to Laos and Cambodia and rode motorbikes to lagoons and waterfalls. I found spirituality in a power outtage. In fact, according to my blog, I found myself most connected with God and the universe outside Church this year.

In true Molly fashion, I fell for someone else soon after that and conquered the city of Bangkok with my closest friends in the country– Ollie, Saadia, Ben and Zhava and Mali. We went out for three days with super-soakers and partied in the country-wide water fight that is the Thai New Year

7/11 covered in plastic awaiting the Son Kran water festival

I went to islands and more islands and more islands. I took my friend Mali on her first island adventure, only to end up sleeping in a tent because there was no room for us at the inn. But we all made a new friend in Ole, a Norwegian lawyer and world traveler.

I finished my time in Thailand with a trip to Koh Chang, my favorite Thai island and was filled with so much joy and love that I will never forget frames and moments from the one trip to which I did not bring a camera.

I finished my work at JRS and got to go home to Omaha and have dance parties and hamburgers and time with my dog. I pretty much got to live in Fr Doll's photo studio.

Amari Cheffer, the sister of my best friend forever, got married. We made a marital fort and danced our feet off. My parents owned that dance floor.

After a brief stint in Thailand, I came to India heartbroken and tattooed, which is something I had never experienced before in my life. For a month, I was pretty much alone in the city, barely mustering the willpower to get out of bed every morning and go to work. I tried everything to breathe normally again and get over it. I drew skeletons. I drew robots. I drank gin. I cried. I wrote and wrote and wrote and wrote.

While I was out in the camps, photographing and interviewing, and trying to get the proverbial "groove" back, I decided two things. One, that I couldn't talk to that person for awhile lest I keep torturing myself. And two, that it's ok for me to feel unsure and nervous and alone sometimes, but don't forget all of the wonderful people who are around you just for the sake of feeling lonely.

Then I lost my grandmother. And I couldn't understand for the life of me what was going in my world. I was stuck in India, unable to go home for the funeral because of visa problems and skyped into the funeral. I was writing nearly every day about my heartbreak… But you lucky readers won't get to read about that until my memoirs come out. But in 2012, I still don't recognize that she is gone. It will be my first trip back to Omaha without seeing her that I will start to feel her absence.

I can say this about 2012 – I won't joke around with love anymore. After what happened, I'm no longer of the impression that people just fall in love while they're young; that it's just fun and exciting. I tend to be a pretty reckless person, but not anymore. Love is serious. And life-changing, for better or worse.

That being said, I fell in love again! More or less at first sight… in that we were in Halloween costumes. And let me tell you, kissing someone, and feeling feelings of love while also tending to a broken heart is something that I can't articulate. Like trying to be two people at once – the one who needs to heal over time, and the new, fun, quirky, not-tragically-broken person who someone might want to hold hands with.

I have now been in India for four months. I've been to 12 cities, lived in three apartments, visited two refugee camps, urban refugee homes and projects, a Hindu wedding, swam in the Ganges, drank champagne over Jaipur, boated across Kashmir's Nageen Lake, celebrated Saint Francis Xavier's feast in Goa, rode horses at the base of the Himalayas, finished a website and ate plenty of dahl. At the end of this year, I feel exhausted. And in one sentence, all the things I have seen and felt this year, whatever it was that has led me to be where I am December, 2012, in a way, I am grateful. To all the new people I have met, and all the people I have known over the years who were ready for a Skype call whenever I needed, thanks. I am grateful for India and Saadia and Louis and everyone who has become my family… be it a dysfunctional one.

Let's hope 2013 teaches me just as much and takes me to incredible places with incredible people.

My New Year's resolution? TCB.

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