I met Nicole in Mannheim, Germany. It was April 1994 and I had just left my military service in Northern Sweden and gone straight to Southern Germany to learn the language. It was a drastic change of scenery. From living in tents in -35 degrees Celcius to long warm nights with a drink outside.
Nicole had a Swedish boyfriend and wanted me to teach her Swedish, in return she would teach me German. It sounded like a great idea, so we began to hang out in cafés, biergartens. Nicole was a sunny soul, full of life. She was a few years older, drove an Audi cabriolet and showed me the scenery outside the city. For 20 year old me, it was a blast. Riding on the autobahn cabbed down with the warm summer winds blowing. Just having been released from a uniform – it was Freedom.
Her boyfriend Agne had a Volkswagen van with storage room for his surfboards and worked as a businessman. From where they lived it was just a few hours drive to reach the Mediterranean beaches. And to me, it sounded like Life. This later turned out to be the reason why I a year later made an attempt to study business administration, only to fail miserably due to lack of interest.
We hung out frequently for a month or two. Then I fell in love with a girl in my German class and there simply wasn’t time to meet as often. I was on an emotional rollercoaster and I don’t really remember how or when I said goodbye to Nicole.
As it turns out I never saw her again. We wrote letters in the days before email (maybe I still have letters somewhere?) Maybe we even wrote email? I received an invitation to Nicole’s and Agnes wedding a few years later, but couldn’t attend. Time flew, we drifted apart. Yet, my memories were always vivid. Some friends you just count as “being on your side” whether or not you deserve them.
So some year ago, I made an effort – for fun – to track down Nicole on Facebook. I found her, exchanged some messages and learnt she had cancer. But I didn’t understand how serious it must have been.
Yesterday, I learnt Nicole passed away two weeks ago. It really saddened me. And filled me with thoughts and emotions. Melancholy, guilt, regret, what-ifs and once again being reminded of how fragile life is, all that can’t be taken for granted. At the same time, it reminds me of my age and how fast a life can flow by. I spent yesterday evening living through the memories in my head. Taking the virtual trip down memory lane by using the little yellow man on Google Maps to show me the street where Nicole and Agne lived in Mannheim.
This morning, all those thoughts and emotions made their way into a song. For now at least, it’s called Nicole. I will share it when I can do it justice.