The passengers who undertake the 15-hour train ride from Stockholm to Kiruna are of a particular breed—what could possibly fuel a desire to reach the northern Swedish frontiers? This endless expanse of wintry emptiness, save for the sparse scatter of birch trees that dot the flat horizon every now and then?
It was by a stroke of fate and a seating algorithm that on an EasyJet flight I met Nino. Romi and I were on our return flight from London. While traveling in pairs is normally not an issue, on a plane with three-seat aisles, the third seat is left to chance.
Autumn hugged Uppsala, a small college town on the periphery of Stockholm. The air had chilled, the sky had greyed and things were dying beautifully. We paused on the way to a museum at a café for a brief indulgence of coffee and kanelbulle and ran into a fellow American abroad.
This is the story of four American girls—wait—one half-Jamaican, half-Lithuanian girl, Tyrah; one Israeli-born, but Belgian passport-carrying girl, Romi; one Serbian-American girl, me; and the token American amongst us, Cecile. This is the story of how four girls found themselves playing King’s Cup until one in the morning in Kloster bar, near the Södermalm neighborhood in Stockholm.
Breakfast at the Paramount in Boston meant a 45-minute wait in the standing line to order, a subsequent fight for a table and an inevitable shouting match between Conversation and Noise. “Izvini sto kasnim!” I yelled, “I’m sorry I’m late!” She waved at the air to both forgive and beckon me to her table.