2012, what a year this has been.
January brought me to Stockholm, Sweden to live for five months until the summer. I flew alone across the Atlantic two days before my 22nd birthday, wide-eyed and a little bit terrified. If I knew then what the next few months would bring me, I'd be singing as the plane took off.
My decision to move to Sweden from Florida during January was a puzzle for many. The sun only comes for a few hours and it is always cold. I thought black and white film captured this spooky and mysterious time of year just as I experienced it. I would walk for hours around town, hands so frozen that it was a struggle to focus my lens. It was all so wonderful and new to me that I couldn't even feel it.
I loved the snow. The first snow of the winter fell the night I arrived, and I sat at the window of my cousin's apartment late into the night watching it fall.
I tried to visit as many museums as I could. I visited Skansen while it was covered in snow, saw the giant Gustav Vasa at Nordiska Museet, the Vasa ship at Vasa Museet, a history of great thinkers at Nobel Museet, an Ai Wei Wei exhibition at Magasin 3, Carl Larsson's beautiful home while in Darlana, a tiny Dala Horse museum filled with a hand-painted history of Swedish hemslöjd... there was so much to see, so much to learn.
I was enrolled as a student at Stockholm University, taking an assortment of classes on Swedish language, culture, and history. The campus was beautiful and it was there that I met an incredible group of people that would go on to become the friends that I would spend the rest of my time with in Sweden.
At the end of March, I was joined by my sweetheart, Cesar, and the next six weeks kicked us into a different gear.
We walked all over Stockholm exploring new places and visiting some of my favorites. I was finally able to share this amazing place that had become my home with someone I care deeply about.
There were countless parties. One particularly great one was our Easter Feaster.
And then we were off on our travels.
First came the infamous road trip to Hamburg and Copenhagen with our dearest friends. The week that followed the road trip was full of sleepless nights trying to rush in all of my term papers several days in advance, a day-trip around the Swedish countryside looking at Viking archaeology (film to be developed..still) and a 3 AM train that same night to the airport. Destination: Paris, France.
The pictures from that trip and the ones that followed will be posted some time in the new year. Too much for one blog post!
From Paris we flew to Milan, Italy. We wandered about Milan for an hour or two, and then caught a train to Venice. We spent the whole time there completely lost and weary, but the sunshine was nice and so was the pizza. We celebrated one year together in Venice and I delighted myself in thinking where we'll be when year two rolls around.
We wandered into St. Mark's Square that night and listened to the dueling pianos. It was fun to be a silly tourist in the most touristy city in Italy.
We got lost as ever looking for the train station, and ended up getting into Rome too late, cutting our trip short to just one day. We were exhausted and our feet were blistered, but we managed to pack all of the major sights of Rome in that day.
Again, these travels will get their own blog post soon enough.
We got back to Stockholm in time for Valborg in nearby Uppsala. As expected, there was total debauchery.
A week or so later, we were off to Amsterdam with Sarah.
By the time we got back home in Stockholm, the sun was wild and bright and with each day stayed out even longer. It hurt to say goodbye to Cesar and I felt very lonely and sick. My time left in Sweden was short, so I resolved in myself to enjoy the rest of it enough for the both of us. And so I lived in the sun.
There were more parties...
My Aunt and Uncle came to visit, and we took the train to Dalarna to visit family and the countryside. It was so lovely to meet the family that played with my father when he was a boy, to see the lake where he went swimming in the summers, the home of my grandmother where she first introduced my grandfather to her own family. I went down in the Falu Gruva copper mine and visited the home of Carl Larsson and his wife Karin. Everything was just so peaceful. I hope to return again for a summer and live the good life found there.
I spent most of my final two weeks with Sarah, a friend I grew immediately and permanently close to. We saw The Tallest Man on Earth at Sodra Teatern and watched the sun linger in the sky late into the night. It was wild to have the sun still light up the sky past 10 and 11 at night, dim for a few hours, and rise back up around 2 and 3 in the morning.
It was hard to leave Sweden after becoming so attached to my friends, to the midnight sun, getting around on the Tunnelbana, wandering in the energy of the city. I didn't want to leave, to go back to America. I had my discontents with Stockholm, the apartment where I stayed, the difficulty of not having a job for months, being apart from my family...but I wanted to stay. But onward we all left, one by one, back to our respective homes.
And it was so good to be home. Back home to my family, to Cesar, to my friends, to my job, to the beach, to Publix... Life changed pace, but the sweetness of each day remained.
(I wasn't even home five days before I was on another plane. My mom and I flew over to New Orleans to visit my sister down in Baton Rouge for a weekend jaunt. Soon enough after that, a road trip to Charleston, SC.)
And then I graduated from UF!
Things settled down for a month or so. Cesar moved in with me, I went back to work full time, spent some time with my favorite little girl, fit right back in with my friends at home, got back into the swing of normal living.
And before I knew it, I was taking off again. Late October brought me to Cali, Colombia, the home and birth place of my Cesaramor, this time with him and his family alongside me. I spent the entire trip surrounded by love and good eats, cared for like I was already a part of the family. I don't know what I did to be so lucky or how this all happened in the span of just one year. I am so thankful for everything this year has brought me, and I can only dream that life will continue to be this good to me in the future.
So goodbye 2012, I will remember you fondly. Now try to top it, 2013!