Molly.

The semester is winding down; the stress levels are slowly decreasing; the caffeine is beginning to stop working; the rush of finals is almost over; and we are all looking forward to the best Christmas gift of all: a break.

However, not for my friend Molly.

“All I want for Christmas is a pug!”

Relaxed on the couch in Molly’s room, with books open around me and papers layered in a chaotic order, I look up from scratching my pen in hurried notes, to see Molly splayed over her bed, hands in hair, with a distraught, longing look on her face.

“What?”

“Well first, I want the pug, but then I want a hairless cat,” she repeats, as her fingers move down the computer’s track pad and her eyes dart over whatever pictures she has discovered, while not studying.

College is a unique time. We are all thrown into one bubble to cohabitate together. You meet all sorts of people you probably never would have crossed paths with if it were not for activities like classes and clubs and tribes and cafeterias. Molly is one such friend. Though I cannot trace the specific moment we first met, Molly has been a consistent character in my life over the past two and a half years. From politics and history to Say Yes To The Dress, books, mustaches and sweaters, Molly has an opinion on everything. She’ll keep you on your toes with a random comment about the Pope, then a blunt fact about Germans eating each other—as she eats her smother and covered hash browns at Waffle House—followed by her new discovery in Hebrews.

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Since freshman year, I’ve enjoyed many hours in Molly’s room discussing books, life and theology across the giant wooden spool she has turned into a book shelf (one of three in her room), and sipping numerous cups of tea. But one of her most unique traits, that always baffles me, is her love for the ugly things of life, like pugs.

“Someone has to love the ugly things of this world,” she proclaims as her roommate Malessa groans after walking into the room to find out Molly is once again distracted by her eccentric animal obsessions. But her love for the ugly goes beyond furry, or not so furry, creatures.

Freshman year, Molly brought home a metal, gold-rimmed mug that looked like a grandmother had finally separated it from her husband and paid the thrift store to take it away. Dark green with a duck framed in a black square in the center, it was hideous. While most thrifters’ hands would have passed over the repugnant piece, Molly’s hand clasped her newfound treasure. She bought that mug, took it home, washed it with tender love and care, and placed it front and center in her ever-increasing collection of mugs. (Of course, we won’t mention the microwave incident where she attempted to heat up her coffee in the METAL mug, sending sparks flying out of the box, threatening to burn the whole dorm down. That’s irrelevant.)

Maleesa sets her stuff down and joins our “studying.” “You and your macabre likings,” says Malessa. “I told my mom today about your history paper that’s due. She asked what it was about. I told her, ‘Well, it’s on vampires. Molly is a little macabre.’”

“I feel like I can get away with it,” says Molly, “because I fool everybody with my sweet, innocent looks.”

“But can’t you just see a pug doing life with me!” she bursts out, with hands dramatically on her chest in a passionate, emotion-filled look upwards. “The world sees pugs as ugly, smooshed-in face creatures, but I see each roll as another reason to love them.”

She looks over at me on the couch, trying to ignore the not atypical conversation about Molly’s future animal kingdom, “Just think, you could be cuddled up on that couch with a hairless cat starring at you. I’ve heard they feel like velvet.”

Oh gosh.

There is never a dull moment with Molly. A few weeks ago, Maleesa and I were returning from a visit to Jacktown, and Molly texted us to come by the room for a midnight cup of tea. She met us at the door: bangs, big glasses, hair in a bun, and covered in a purple corduroy jumper from neck to ankles. “Look at my new dress,” she said with an almost seducing tone in her voice. We sidestepped the wannabe grandma to check out what was in that tea.

Back in the room tonight, where I have given up all hopes of studying, Molly sits at her desk, ignoring the history essays due on Monday, to flip through her Pinterest wall of pugs.

“Have I shown you my pug wall?” she asks me.

“No, I can’t say that I’ve seen that.”

She scoots over to show me a pug dressed in a Victorian costume, looking perfectly miserable. “It’s just so cute,” she coos over the dog. “I want one.”

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She moves back over to her desk, and Maleesa and I exchange a look of ridiculousness but total belief in our interesting friend.

Molly stares down at her screen one last time, before turning it off and looking sadly at her papers, “Now I’ve gotten myself so excited, dreaming about the future, my little animal kingdom.”

Laughter fills the room, breaking any remaining layers of tension and stress, and tears begin to roll down our faces as we all realize the silliness of our conversations and the love of our friendship.

Laughter, tea, friends, and pugs. My Christmas break feels like it’s already begun.

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