Ode to Kimmy

The transition from high school to college can be a tough one, especially if you’re moving a significant distance from home. There will be good days (where the sun shines through your window, your dorm neighbor invites you to lunch, and you get an A on your test), and there will be bad days (when you’re alone with your thoughts but don’t know anyone well enough yet to talk it out). People from the high school I had graduated from have a habit of “summer cleaning”: unfriending and unfollowing all those kids they didn’t really talk to or just didn’t think they would ever talk to again.


I tried my best to keep in contact with my closest friends via Snapchat and Facebook (at the time of writing this, I had 27 unopened text messages, so having a conversation over iMessage is not an option for me). Pretty soon, though, our full conversations slowly became pictures of random corners of a room just to keep a streak. However, there is one person that my friendship with has strengthened in that terrifying plunge into adulthood: Kimmy Cardinal.


Even though Kimmy and I had been going to school together since sixth grade, we didn’t start talking until our sophomore year of high school. You may be thinking, How the heck can you go to school together for four years without even talking? Well, my friends, we graduated with a class of around 500 people (I don’t know the exact number), and there are some people I had been going to school with for 7 years that I didn’t even know the name of.


My graduating class of 2017


In middle school, I hung out with the Harry Potter crowd, even though I wasn’t a huge fan. All my friends liked fantasy stuff and Pokemon while I liked photography and romance shows. Kimmy hung out with... you know, I really couldn’t tell you. What I can tell you is that our circles never mingled.


In tenth grade, I had long since outgrown the Harry Potter gang and had made many friends through marching band. Kimmy was also in band, but we really only interacted with each other in Mr. Spinner’s World History class. We first began talking when I complimented her eye makeup, to which she replied, “Oh, really? I’ve been working on my cat eye for a while, but my wings just suck.”


Okay, Kimmy. I take it back—your makeup looks terrible. I hate it.



Our World History teacher was notorious around the building for his loud voice. Multiple times a day, every day of the week, the English teacher next door would send one of her students over to ask him (not-so-seriously, I might add) to speak a little softer. Of course, Mr. Spinner would respond by opening the door and continuing to teach our class from the entryway. If you thought his voice was loud beforehand, you should have heard it after Mrs. Farmer told him to be quiet.


Our friendship began to grow in that fifth period History class but strengthened through being in symphony band together. Our band director at the time, Mr. Steinmetz, was always one of our favorite teachers and had made rehearsal enjoyable for all of his students. Every day before class, Kimmy and I would chat as we put our instruments together before rehearsal started and afterwards when we put them away. However, that was put on hold for a while because Kimmy got into our school’s top band and I didn’t. To me, it seemed as if all of my friends had gotten in except me and a few others, but most importantly: my band buddy was gone. Sure, we still hung out before concerts and sometimes, we sat next to each other in the audience as we watched the freshman band play through their songs. She told me all about concert band and how the rehearsals were so much more difficult than what she had experienced the two previous years, but how she was okay with that because the band sounded amazing. I, in turn, told her how awesome Steinmetz still was, and that made her a little jealous.


During junior year, we didn’t have any classes together (that I can remember: that’s three years of memories to sift through). Besides our brief conversations during the not-so-common band concerts, Kimmy and I resorted to only liking each other’s Instagram photos.


And then it happened: I made it into concert band.


Our concert band’s 2017 graduating seniors pictured with our directors


Now our friendship began to bloom: we snapped, texted, called, and Facetimed each other. During those odd days when our director was out of town, we would study together in our school’s cafeteria. “Study” being that we didn’t even make a dent in our homework because we were too busy laughing and joking around. Some mornings, if we were both at school early enough, we would leave to go to Starbucks for drinks, Super America for yummy snacks, or McDonald’s for breakfast and still made it back in time for first hour, which was band.


In band, the last few weeks before graduation were reserved for auditions for the next year and learning graduation music. Because Kimmy and I were both seniors at the time and didn’t need to re-audition or learn graduation music (because we were, you know, graduating) we stayed just long enough for attendance before leaving and taking a cruise around Woodbury (Mom, if you’re reading this, I promise it’s the only time I’ve ever skipped class… in high school). My fondest memory of those numerous joy rides was when she decided to drive across town (instead of to the gas station across the street) to get a pack of gum and then drive past our rival high school with the windows rolled down and our middle fingers up. That may seem a little vulgar, but if your rival school was East Ridge High School, you’d do it too.


Kimmy and me on the night of Senior Band Awards


After graduating, the summer flew by fast, and before I knew it, I was heading off to Winona State to start my college career as a nursing major (which was short-lived because I switched to social work in the spring). Kimmy went to the University of Minnesota Twin Cities after debating whether or not to go to her dream school or the cheaper one—she chose her dream school. I later learned that she had gotten accepted here at WSU, but she had only applied because she thought purple and white were pretty colors and would love to have worn them as spirit wear.


Winona, as you may know, starts a few weeks before other schools, so it was my unofficial job to let Kimmy know how college really was: going to class, how hard the homework was, living in a dorm, showering in a stall, and, maybe most importantly, pooping in a community dorm bathroom where you can hear needles drop. Even though I had made a few friends, it was still hard for me to be away from my family, the friends, and the town I had been a part of for so long. Luckily, I had Kimmy, who graciously Facetimed me for hours at a time and let me rant and cry to her about my problems.


Exactly a year ago, Kimmy convinced her mom to borrow the car and drove 212 miles roundtrip to come and visit me. I was so excited to have a friend voluntarily come to see me. We spent the night socializing in my friend’s dorm (he had a TV and jello shots—don’t judge) before walking to $5 Pizza. In the morning, we had breakfast in the cafeteria where I swiped her in, and then she left. We were pretty close before college started, but after her visit, our friendship was cemented.



A few months later at the end of January, my mom moved to a new house in the town we lived in. After talking with Kimmy, I found out that she lived right down the street. I couldn’t believe it: we lived so close to each other, there’s no way we wouldn’t be able to hang out all the time!


First day of Summer break 2018


Once I came home for the summer, I reserved my free time to hang out with Kimmy. If I wasn’t working, I was taking pictures with her. If I wasn’t doing homework for my child advocacy class? You guessed it: chillaxing with Kimmy. One day, we decided to go to Stillwater, Minnesota, to take pictures. It was so beautiful out: blue skies, sun was shining, very few clouds in the sky. My family didn’t have many pictures of my dog, so we decided to take Oliver along for the ride, too. As we were walking around downtown Stillwater, we witnessed a man drop to his knee and propose to his girlfriend. It was so surreal! We looked around us, trying to catch the eye of some stranger who may have seen what we had, but, to our knowledge we were the only ones who had caught this beautiful moment.   



As the summer came to a close, we spent countless hours together, including late night drives around our city and Cottage Grove, photo shoots, and just hanging out at each other’s houses. Maybe you’re thinking, well, she just sounds like any other friend I’ve ever had, but I bet you’ve never had a friend that willingly sat through 3 hours straight of the Turkish March on full blast for you before declaring it forbidden in their presence. Now that’s a true friend.



This year, I decided to move out of the dorms and live in an off-campus apartment. To say that I felt sad once my mom left after helping me move in is an understatement. I felt devastated, knowing that was it: I would never “go home” again. Going back to Woodbury would just be “visiting my mom.” Kimmy knew how hard that transition was for me and jumped at the chance when I asked her if she maybe wanted to visit before school started. Two days later, she willingly made the 212 mile roundtrip again to see me!


To me, there weren’t enough hours in the day. First, we went and saw a movie at the theater, practically peeing our pants laughing (you know, that spy movie with Kate McKinnon and Mila Kunis). Then, I took her up to Garvin Heights to show her the spectacular view of Winona. I have a 2004 Santa Fe with transmission problems, so getting up the bluff was no easy feat. It didn’t help that there was a brand-spankin’-new GMC SUV tailgating us either. After noticing that their windows were open, I shouted out of mine that my car was old and that riding my tail would not make me go any faster, so back the heck up. They did and they weren’t very happy, but it made Kimmy laugh, so it’s okay.


Kimmy and me during our trip to Garvin


That night was spent swiping through guys on Tinder. I know, I know—my friend traveled so far to see me and we let the time pass by swiping through the men of the 507 (the area code for the lower fifth of Minnesota). But there’s something therapeutic looking at the cuties our age that we don’t have any chance with. Well, Kimmy has a chance. Most are not my forte.


After she left to go back home, we began talking more (if that’s even possible). So, while this isn’t a lyrical poem as the title suggests, I am so grateful for all of the snaps, conversations, visits, and multi-hour Facetimes to keep us connected, and I wanted the world to know! I’ve had too many friendships end abruptly with a lasting impact, but Kimmy has been there through all of it. Besides knowing how awesome she is, I want people to take how a true friend acts from this. Even as a college student, we are still surrounded by people who don’t treat us how we deserve.


To Kimmy: you treat me better than I deserve. You are amazing. Thank you.


Kimmy and Oliver